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Future of Parliament Hill Cafe hanging in the balance

PUBLISHED: 07:00 10 March 2016 | UPDATED: 11:16 10 March 2016

A petition has been launched to keep Alberto D'Auria running the  Parliament Hill Cafe

A petition has been launched to keep Alberto D'Auria running the Parliament Hill Cafe

© Nigel Sutton email pictures@nigelsuttonphotography.com

The family who have run the Parliament Hill Cafe for the last 33 years look set to be pushed out in favour of a commercial caterering company.

The City of London Corporation, who run Hampstead Heath, have tendered out the three-year lease for the cafe, along with four others and will announce the winners on Tuesday.

The new leases will begin in May and must first be approved by the Hampstead Heath management committee on Monday.

The report to the committee refuses to name the ‘recommended’ winner of the Parliament Hill cafe lease for “commercial reasons”.

But it reveals that the new company offers “a well-designed and modern menu...based around a new wood-fired oven”

It desribes the company as : “A high-quality catering partner with extensive experience in open space environments..with greater company central support available for the lease.”

Italian chef Alberto D’Auria, 70, whose family have run the cafe since 1982, said: “That is not us. It looks certain that we have not won the tender. My son was going to take over from me and had submitted a tender.

“I feel very sad. Local people love us. I have been told I will get a phone call with the result on Tuesday but it seems certain we will have to leave.”

Son Alfonso, 39, who runs the family wholesale icecream business and had planned to take over running the cafe from his father said: “We will hear on Tuesday, but that is not us. It sounds from that description like it will be a big commercial company, or a pizza chain.

“My dad is going to be very upset at the end of the day, its been his life for 33 years. But that is life. The high price they were asking made it commercially unviable for a small family business. We bid high, but a larger company could come in higher”

“We have always catered for kids and local families with good quality food and reasonable prices. Whoever comes in now will have to double prices to make any profit.”

Members of the Hampstead Heath Management Committee are also being asked to approve four further leases for the cafe in the Parliament Hill Lido, the Highgate Wood Cafe, The Golders Hill Park Cafe and the cafe in Queens Park.

Officers said 28 tenders had been recieved from 15 catering companies some of which bid for multiple leases. The report said: “The objective of the tender process was to seek service improvement and

best value from these catering outlets” and that “The City obtained the best price so that any additional income could be invested into the sites.”

It said the winning companies had offered the “most economically advantageous tender.”

The companies that are being recommended for Highgate Wood and Golders Hill Cafe are also both described in identical terms as “A high-quality catering partner with extensive experience in open space environments..with greater company central support available for the lease” leading to speculation that the cafes could become part of a chain.


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