Getting a cheap and tasty bite to eat near Leicester Square is about to get tougher after the sad news that Jewish deli Gaby’s is closing at the end of October. The unassuming little family-run café on Charing Cross Road has been serving up falafel and salt beef to hungry theatregoers since 1965. In a sea of boring chains, Gaby’s offers a refreshing selection of affordable Middle Eastern dishes to regulars, tourists, celebs and anyone else who was drawn in by the impressive selection of salads in the window. It’s the perfect place for a pre-lash takeaway pita or a quiet meeting over a cuppa.
Now the lease is ending and 82-year-old proprietor Gaby Elyahou is set to embark on a well-earned retirement. His 72-year-old nephew Menachem Kojman, who also works in the deli, says that he just can’t battle the surrounding West End chains and high rents any more. Unfortunately, the family haven’t found anyone else to take over the business, so with a heavy heart they’ve announced that Gaby’s is serving its last latke at the end of the month.
This isn’t the first time that Gaby’s has been under threat. Back in 2011, the deli battled redevelopment before getting a reprieve by its landlords after a high-profile campaign from actors, politicians and writers including Jeremy Corbyn, Boris Johnson, Miriam Margolyes and Vanessa Redgrave. But it seems that this time, unless there’s a miracle in the next few days, Gaby’s will go the way of other central London eating institutions like New Piccadilly, Stockpot, Food for Thought, Café Picasso and the Gay Hussar.
So, before October 31, make a pilgrimage to CXR to order as much as you can fit on your table, take a last read of the faded clippings and posters that line the walls and say thanks to Gaby for all the good times. Sob.