Closing time for Crouch End's Haberdashery cafe after 12 years
- Credit: Greg Vukasovic
Crouch End's award-winning cafe the Haberdashery is closing after almost 12 years in Middle Lane.
Catherine West MP, a regular whose constituency office is next door, was among those to pay tribute after co-founder Greg Vukasovic announced it would close its doors on August 31.
Greg said the decision had been made as he is set to marry and move to Glasgow with his husband-to-be in September.
He opened the Haberdashery with Massimo Bergamin in 2009, and the pair also have had a branch in Stoke Newington.
He told this newspaper: "Obviously it wasn't an easy decision. It has been 12 years since we started – it's been quite a stretch of time!
"I always tell people it's been the best decade of my life, and I have really had a great time doing this.
"I came from a very different background. I was a consultant and though I was making more money, I was pretty miserable. When I look back, the Haberdashery has been the best thing ever for me. It was such a profound change from how I had experienced London, and it was lovely to experience this community."
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Greg said being able to play a role in the community had been the source of his best memories over the last 12 years.
He said: "What's really stood out is all of the community things we have done over the years. Things like Barboot, or when after the Tottenham riots we created a community calendar to raise money for the Tottenham businesses which had been damaged - and we raised thousands."
Barboot is the spin on a car boot sale pioneered by the Haberdashery, which saw a number of Crouch End establishments hold evening vintage sales - accompanied by cocktails.
Over the years, the cafe won all manner of awards including being named Grazia's magazine's "best caffeine fix in London" and the best coffee shop in the city by the London Lifestyle Awards.
Greg added: "What I'll miss most are 100% the people. By that I mean the regulars, the people whose kids we've watched grow up. They were literally in high chairs when we started, then this year they were 16 and applying for jobs...
"And also of course all of the staff we've employed. Over the years it's been more than 150. That's all people I've got to know really well and that's pretty special."
He said seeing hundreds of messages of love since he announced the closure on social media had been "incredibly lovely".
The cafe's ethos has always been to sustainably source produce from local producers – including meat from local butcher's Freeman's, bread from Dunns and Sourdough Sophia, and tea from Muswell Hill's W Martyn.
Greg said: "There's this whole network we've built up of local producers and I'm quite proud of that. We could have just bought everything on the cheap."
When reopening after lockdown, an artsy member of staff even illustrated this by breaking down one of the Haberdashery's famous breakfasts into its ingredients - and where they came from.
Looking back to 2009, Greg said it is remarkable how Crouch End had changed.
He said: "At the time we opened, there wasn't really a brunch culture. And being foreigners and having travelled widely, we saw an opportunity there. A lot of the cafes at the time are chains like Starbucks.
"We really wanted a place that was homely and cobbled together. Everything was second-hand and repurposed. Of course, since we opened it's totally transformed. I think when we opened there were three or four cafes, now there must be 15.
"The main reason we're closing is because I'm leaving, but what's happening in Crouch End doesn't feel sustainable. It's very hard to make any money here any more. If you were going to open somewhere grottier a few zones out you'd have a better chance."
Catherine West shared her sadness at the coming closure, she said: “I'm so sad that the Haberdashery is closing. For years it's been a meeting place for us in Crouch End, somewhere to share a cup of coffee, soup or laugh with a friend or shed a tear. Good luck Greg and our loss is Glasgow's gain."