Alexandra Béni | Sep 25, 2018 | 1
The end is here – legendary Hungarian restaurant to be closed in London
According to The Guardian, the famous Hungarian restaurant in London named Gay Hussar might have to close next month because of financial reasons. The eatery was known not only for the Hungarian specialities it offered, like goulash and chilled wild-cherry soup, but also as the haunt of the Labour party for several decades.
History of the restaurant
The restaurant was opened in 1953 and has provided a place for many of the Labour Party’s gatherings. It soon came to be one of the most celebrated joints in London, not least because of its reputation as a hotbed for political gossip and secret plannings.
In fact, rumour has it that some Tories planned the failed overthrow of Margaret Thatcher here in the 1980s!
Over the 65 years of its running, it became a favoured spot by artists, writers and politicians. Many longtime Labour politicians frequented the place, to celebrate election wins or to drown their sorrows. Or, sometimes even to celebrate birthdays. Editors of different prestigious newspapers, like The Guardian, Observer or Private Eye, also often chose to spend their lunch breaks there.
Some of them were keener than others to give out secret information they came to possess, so it has always been a great place to visit to get some insider information.
The restaurant’s crisis
However, it seems like all this must come to an end next month. Due to financial reasons including rising rent and overhead as well as a decrease in booked lunches, Corus Hotels, the owner, may be forced to close the restaurant on 21st of June.
The restaurant was in a similar situation back in 2013.
However, it got an overwhelming support from journalists and politicians who founded the Goulash Co-operative to help save their haunt.
Thanks to their movement – and the fact that there was no offer worth considering – the owners agreed to give it another chance, making a few alterations to help ramp up the business.
In the past few days, it seems that insiders – namely, the most valued customers – have been tipped off about the coming closing of the restaurant. As of now, no official statement has been released but it is expected to come in the next few days, after negotiations with the staff are over.
In light of the news, it seems like the Goulash Co-operative will try to save the restaurant again. They already held a fundraising and plans to not only keep but renovate and modernise the place emerged, too. John Goodman, the spokesman of the Goulash Co-operative revealed this much of the plans:
“We believe now is the time to create a new Gay Hussar, and are in talks with possible partners who agree with us that this unique establishment must be saved. (…) We have lots of exciting plans to renovate it.”
Neil Kinnock, former leader of the Labour Party, also expressed his sorrow over the decision and launched action to “save this part of political history”.
Other members of the Co-operative expressed excitement over remaking the place, too, possibly giving room for more literary events. It is certain, however, that the restaurant is loved by many and its future will be handled accordingly.
Founder of the restaurant
The restaurant was founded by Victor Sassie. Born to a Welsh mother and a Swiss father, he spent some time in Hungary during his studies and gained experience in the restaurant trade.
Inspired by the experience, he opened an establishment called the Budapest in London in 1939.
He died in 1999 but sold the Gay Hussar years before that, in 1988.
The decor of the establishment has not changed a lot since its founding. The walls have long been covered by books and caricatures, depicting different political personas. Newest members have been added to the collection of cartoons, though, so there is some degree of variety in the decorations.
The general manager of the restaurant admitted that they have been getting fewer lunch guests, losing out on a portion of their income. However, an interest on the part of younger people can be observed, along with newfound attention provided by TripAdvisor, so there is still hope for the establishment.
For other restaurants abroad, check out this article about a beautiful restaurant that also offers Hungarian food!
Featured image: facebook.com/GayHussarRestaurant