"It is very sad but it’s something that has to be done"
The Adamou brothers shut up shop after more than 50 years of trading in Chiswick
Film and TV stars were regular customers, along with Nigella Lawson and food lovers from around the globe.
T Adamou & Sons was known for first introducing west London to exotic new items like the aubergine and appeared in countless foodie guides.
For over half a century the Greek-Cypriot grocer was a hub of the community on Chiswick High Road, a place to drop in and chat, as well as shop.
It’s a familiar story for small independent traders of soaring bills and business rates, increased parking problems and customers switching to supermarkets. Sainsbury, Tesco and Waitrose are all within walking distance.
Yet there is a feeling of loss among locals who thought Adamou and its Aladdin’s Cave of olives, spices and foods would be an ingredient of their High Road forever, alongside the rather more modern stores, cafes, restaurants and bars.
It sold many different items over the decades. But the sense of community was the one thing in the shop that no-one could put a price on.
It opened in 1959, just after prime minister Harold Macmillan was re-elected and Britain had its first sight of a new car called the Mini. And now it has gone.
“I think people are more traumatised than I am. One guy even said, ‘When Adamous goes, I’m selling my house.’ It’s a bit like mini-hysteria.,” says Ionas Adamou, 59, who ran the business with brother Adamos, 62.
There’s no doubt the shop failed to move with the times. But the brothers own the freehold and there is a chance it might return in a different form. There are plans to refurbish the retail space, as well as the four flats above.
Adamos says Adamou might re-open as a smaller, specialised store. That’s just one of the options. Ionas, also known as John, is exploring a possible transfer online.
But both brothers, who have had their differences over the years, know it is the end of an era and say they may end up having to lease or sell the premises to someone else.
“The relief is that a decision has been made because my brother and I have both dithered for too long. I’ve known it’s been coming for ages,” says father-of-three Ionas (pictured on the right).
Business rates were in the region of £3000 a month. “Some weeks, if you’re only making about £1,500, it doesn’t add up. The situation has been dire for years and it’s just hard to survive with the business rates and lack of volume.”
The original shop at No 126 - to the left as you look from the High Road - was a butcher’s and the cold room is still downstairs, along with a smoking oven.
Theo then bought the right-hand side at 124, which was a leather goods and handbag shop, knocking the walls down to expand his business.
Theo died five years ago at the age of 82 and Photini has also passed away. Both are still remembered in an area where several other small traders have also recently closed.
A picture of their father still looked over the tills as the brothers shut up shop for the last time.
Adamos reflects: “In many ways it was like a Middle Eastern bazaar. My father would make Greek coffee for people. It was alive. It was communication between people, which we’ve lost elsewhere. The thing we’ll miss most is the feeling of community compared to the de-humanisation you feel in supermarkets.
March 15, 2011