Relatives of 7/7 victim make emotional plea to save Golders Hill Park cafe

Esther Hyman, right, with her sister Miriam in happier days before her tragic death

Esther Hyman, right, with her sister Miriam in happier days before her tragic death - Credit: Archant

The relatives of a woman who died in the 7/7 bombings have expressed their grief that her favourite cafe in Golders Hill Park is to be taken over by catering chain Benugo.

Golders Hill Park cafe owner Andrew Pazienti

Golders Hill Park cafe owner Andrew Pazienti - Credit: Archant

Esther Hyman told how The Refreshment House has a special place in the family’s hearts as the funeral of her sister Miriam Hyman was held there after she was tragically killed on July 7 2007 when the bus she was travelling on to work exploded in Tavistock Square.

Friends and family now gather at the cafe every year on July 7 to remember nature lover and artist Miriam who had been coming there all her life.

The cafe lease is one of three to be handed over to Benugo by the City of London Coporation, along with Parliament Hill Cafe and the cafe in Highgate Wood.

This will see the Pazienti family, who have run The Refreshment House since 1973, being forced to leave in May.

The Refreshment House in Golders Hill Park

The Refreshment House in Golders Hill Park - Credit: Archant

Angry customers, including the Hyman family and TV presenter Henry Kelly, have signed a petition against the move which has more than 1,800 signatures.

Esther said: “Our parents used to take us to Golders Hill Park as toddlers. The cafe is a very special place to us and Mim was very connected to it. Gathering at the cafe she knew each year makes it more bearable as we support each other.

“It won’t be the same when it is run by a chain. It won’t be the place Mim knew. It will be like holding her memorial in a Costa Coffee or a McDonalds. The City are putting profit before people and it will be a loss to the community.”

TV presenter Henry Kelly, who lives nearby in Sandy Road and has been visiting the cafe for more than 30 years, said: “It is a wonderful family coffee shop with the most wonderful homemade ice cream in this peaceful, happy little part of Hampstead. Everyone knows each other. You see the same people drinking their coffee and reading the papers.

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“Now we are getting a chain with no consultation at all. Not even a leaflet through the door to ask for our views. The enjoyment of the Heath by local residents comes second to making money for the Corporation. What next, will they be selling of the whole Heath for housing?”

Andrew Pazienti, whose uncle Tony ran the cafe until his death in 2003, when Andrew took over, said: “We were really shocked and saddened. I feel that the tender process was a pointless exercise as it was a fait accompli. All our leases were different, but they got them all inline with each other to start and end on the same date.

“It is so sad. I see three generations of the same families coming in here.

“I have no idea what I will do now.”