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Family-run Marylebone restaurant bids goodbye to home of 49 years

PUBLISHED: 07:08 16 March 2012

Head waiter Pepe Sanchez and manager Petros Charalambous outside the Hellenic restaurant

Head waiter Pepe Sanchez and manager Petros Charalambous outside the Hellenic restaurant

Archant

One of Marylebone’s best-loved family-run restaurants is being forced to say goodbye to its home of 49 years after new landlords decided to redevelop the building.

Hellenic Greek restaurant in Thayer Street has been run by two generations of the Charalambous family since 1963.

With a menu still offering typical 1960s fare and décor from decades past, the establishment has been fondly described by customers as “the restaurant that time forgot”.

But time finally caught up with it when Marylebone landowners, the Howard de Walden Estate, bought the freehold at the end of 2010 and decided to redevelop what they say is a “structurally unsafe” building.

Hellenic is now set to leave its home when its current lease runs out on March 21.

Owner Petros Charalambous, 58, whose uncle Yiannis first opened the restaurant, said: “The building used to be privately owned but then the Howard de Walden Estate bought it in October 2010.

“They served us with a notice and told us they wanted to redevelop the whole building.

“We are emotional, having been here for so many years.

“We are an old style restaurant and our menu is based on the 1960s and hasn’t changed too much.

“Many of our customers come in and just order without the menu. They have their favourite dishes.

“I still have some of the 1963 customers coming in.”

Mr Charalambous says he has found other premises in Marylebone, which he is hoping to move into at the end of March.

Chiltern Street resident John Falding, 68, has been going to Hellenic for more than 25 years.

He said: “It’s like the restaurant that time forgot. The food is unpretentious and I have always had a good meal there.

“I’m happy that it’s staying in the area but it won’t be the same, because it’s the bricks and walls that make it so special. That element will be gone.

“Unfortunately, it’s yet another example of somewhere in Marylebone that has character and charm being taken away.”

But Howard de Walden Estate property director Simon Baynham described the property as “the worst condition building” he has seen in 17 years.

He said: “The upstairs has been empty for some time but it is completely unsafe.

“Structurally the property is not in a safe condition, so whatever happens, the restaurant needs to close.

“It’s always difficult when people have been here for so long, but it’s just one of those things, unfortunately.

‘‘I hope they find some new premises.”


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