I get asked regularly about Mario’s. Mario’s is the long-closed Greek restaurant on the corner of Broadhurst Gardens and West Hampstead Mews. It may soon be remembered only from photos.
|The outer wall is straight. The building less so!|
It’s now an overgrown empty building on the corner of a block that is slowly crumbling. The freeholders use it as a workshop occasionally. I even saw a pool table in there once.
Mario’s has been closed, I guess, for about five years. It used to be a friendly neighbourhood restaurant and if you got take-away, they’d always throw in some chips or a free salad. One of the last times I went, David Soul (Hutch from the original Starsky & Hutch) was at the table next to us.
Despite being a large restaurant in a good location, the premises has been empty ever since Mario went back to Cyprus (where I hear he runs a very successful restaurant). It’s too big for most independents to take on – especially given the structural repair work needed; while the chain restaurants with deep pockets would always prefer somewhere on West End Lane, oblivious to the lively atmosphere on Broadhurst in the evenings, and the proximity to the tube station.
When the freeholder died some years ago, I understand that his sons inherited not just the Mario’s site, but the entire block, right up to (but not including) the ENO building that used to house Decca Studios (of Beatles rejection fame). Unfortunately, despite owning a rather valuable piece of real estate, the sons had no cash with which to repair it.
|The whole block would be redeveloped|
Full-scale redevelopment was therefore always on the cards, and appears to have taken a significant step closer to fruition. This week I received an e-mail:
We are preparing plans to re-develop the site to improve the quality of the ground floor commercial accommodation and the residential units above. The existing building is in a very poor state, both internally and externally. We believe a new build scheme will improve the area. We are having a public exhibition on the site between 4pm -8pm on 16th October 2013 to display a number of plans.
I have no inside knowledge on what the plans are in any detail, but I’m looking forward to finding out. I hope that the height of any new building would be in keeping with the buildings in the immediate vicinity.
This land falls just outside the West Hampstead growth area, so there is less presumption in favour of development. Nevertheless, much as it will be a shame to see the old red brick building vanish, with its faded advert on the side, and tenants who’ll need to find somewhere else to live, it will be good to see new life come to what was once a stalwart of the West Hampstead dining scene. I wouldn’t say no to another really good Greek restaurant.
|The writing is indeed on the wall for this building|