Man who sold fish to Ricky Gervais and Peter Cook says Hampstead business is booming
- Credit: Nigel Sutton
In the latest in our monthly series about the people behind the shops and businesses of NW3, we speak to Andy Theodorou of Hampstead Seafoods
It’s fair to say the life of a fishmonger is not the easiest – even when comedy greats such as Peter Cook and Ricky Gervais are liable to wander in and brighten up your shift.
On a typical day, Andy Theodorou rises at 2.30am, heads to Billingsgate Market where he stocks up on fresh seafood, makes it to his Hampstead Village shop at 5.30am for a long stint behind the counter, and finally calls it a day at 5pm.
But despite the early start and long hours, Ms Theodorou loves his job – and he says the good people of Hampstead are what make it such a pleasure.
The 50-year-old has been in the business his entire working life – following his father into the trade – and has been at Hampstead Seafoods in the heart of Hampstead Village since 1987.
“It’s a good area, 95 per cent of the customers are really nice people,” he said. “It’s been great to work here for the past 25 years and I want another 25. I still enjoy it and I love the area.
“It gives me a fairly good living, I own my business and you could not get a better area to work in. The customers are the thing that makes it.”
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Those customers have included many famous faces over the years, with Ricky Gervais among the current clientele.
“We have a few famous customers,” he said, before recalling one particular visit from another comedy legend.
“Peter Cook used to be a regular. He came in once and bought some halibut, he put it in his pocket, went to the pub and forgot about it. He woke up the next day and it was still there.”
Mr Theodorou bought the shop, nestled in Hampstead Community Market, Hampstead High Street, in 1989 and now runs it with his younger brother Emilios, 47. The pair, who have 60 years of experience between them, also run an increasingly popular delivery service.
While one might expect the nation’s economic woes to hit a fishmonger’s that prides itself on serving the best quality seafood – something that could be seen as an inessential luxury by belt-tightening shoppers – Hampstead Seafoods has not suffered.
He said: “Business is pretty good. We have not really suffered because of the area we’re in, and the quality of the fish we sell. We do a good selection and it’s all top quality, what the people of Hampstead deserve.
“Hampstead Community Market has never been better – we have a good greengrocer, a very good butcher. The quality of the produce of this market has gone up hugely since I started.”
Both Theodorou’s started out in their father’s shop in Wembley while they were at school.
“Me and my brother, we have got 60 to 65 years of experience between us, and that’s a rare thing nowadays,” he said.
The pair are keen for the family trade to be kept up by the next generation and Andy hopes his brother’s two sons might take up the mantle when they leave school.
“I have never done another job,” he added. “I used to work in my dad’s shop when I was at school, I got used to it and I liked it. I had a few other jobs after he sold up, in the same trade, and then I got a job here in 1987 – and two years later it was mine.
“I have not looked back, it’s been absolute pleasure serving the people of Hampstead, it really has.”
* Hampstead Seafoods is a member of the NW3 Hampstead Business. To find out more, email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit www.nw3hampstead.com, or follow @NW_3Hampstead on Twitter