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Dark tragedy behind the triumph of Toff's

PUBLISHED: 17:46 10 April 2008 | UPDATED: 14:57 07 September 2010

THE owners of an award-winning fish and chip shop in Muswell Hill have paid tribute to founders who were forced to sell up after a family tragedy. Toff's restaurant in Muswell Broadway is one of the most successful in London. It grills and fries 14 stones

THE owners of an award-winning fish and chip shop in Muswell Hill have paid tribute to founders who were forced to sell up after a family tragedy.

Toff's restaurant in Muswell Broadway is one of the most successful in London.

It grills and fries 14 stones of fish and chips 15 sacks of potatoes in one day. Moreover, the fish and chip shop takes up to 50 orders an hour.

But the owners, brothers George Georgiou and Costas Georgiou have attributed their buoyant trade to the founders Andreas and Nedi Toffali.

The Toffalis opened Toff's in 1987 and ran it as a family business with their son Aristos and two daughters Margaret and Lucy.

They built up an enviable reputation after winning an award for best fish and chip shop in the UK.

Then in 1996, the family was struck by tragedy when a kitchen porter stabbed Aristos to death in Muswell Hill Broadway after an argument at work.

Crippled by grief, his parents were unable to continue working in the restaurant and decided to move back to their home country of Cyprus.

Their legacy lives on, however, and the Georgiou brothers maintain that it is because of the high standards the Toffalis set that customers continue to flood through the door.

George Georgiou, 50, who bought the restaurant with his brother in 1999, said: "When we took over the high standards set by the Toffalis had slipped somewhat.

"A Jewish couple, called the Barzilays, bought the restaurant from the Toffalis in 1997 but they made the mistake of trying to run it from Dorset - where they had a caravan business.

"Andreas provided me with all their family recipes for the restaurant meals and advised us to get our fish from Grimsby market.

"He was also very generous in sharing all his contacts within the fish industry with us. "It's thanks to him that we were able to re-establish Toff's reputation and as a mark of our gratitiude we have a framed photo of the family on the wall."

The restaurant - voted the best British restaurant in the Archant restaurant awards in 2007 - proved its credentials again this week, when two staff members celebrated passing NVQ certificates in hygiene, counter service and waitering.

Waiter Alex Anasti and fish counter assistant Agnieszka Rozna both achieved the professional qualifications.

Alex said: "I was offered a career in retail at BHS - but I turned it down because I enjoy working at Toff's so much. There's a good atmosphere and I enjoy working with people. Working at Toff's is not just a job in a fish restaurant - it's a career."

broadway@hamhigh.co.uk

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