Customers of the Parkway Patisserie in Finchley are campaigning against the plans of its landlord to close the kosher bakery and use the site as part of a development of offices, luxury flats and a library.
If Parkway closes in Finchley — where it served its first customer the day after Pesach in 1967 — its owners say the other branches in Golders Green and Wembley will also shut down.
A “save our shop” petition has accumulated nearly 1,000 signatures in a few weeks.
The parents of Parkway director Rabbi Herschel Gluck, Nata and Avraham, founded the bakery. The Glucks were joined by Kyriacos Paraskeva, a Greek Orthodox man who had worked as a pastry chef with Rabbi Gluck’s uncle, Alfred Dux. Parkway focuses on central European recipes and is known for its cheesecake and cream pastries.
Preparing a fresh batch of apple and cinnamon tarts, Barry Paraskeva, who succeeded his late father in the business, reflected: “If this shop in Finchley goes, we’re finished. This is the heart of it all, this is where we make most of our goods. There just isn’t the space in our Wembley kitchen.
“The landlord told us to get a unit, but we would have to go wholesale and the people who come in and out of the front are the life of the shop. We’re fighting for survival on the high street.”
Mr Paraskeva had been “completely overwhelmed by the amount of support we have — I don’t believe it actually. I hope this support can show Barnet Council how much it means to the community.
“My father worked in the shop until he was 76 and my mother Doris worked here until she was 80. We never used to go to parties or things like that. The bakery is our life — we work very hard.”
Finchley resident Daniel Robinson described the bakery as a “local piece of Jewish tradition”, adding: “The possibility of closure is a blow for the local community. It would be a tragedy for the people who work there but also constitute the loss of one of the few Ashkenazi bakeries around.
“The people who run the bakery are, in my view, unlike all the competition. Their bread is a lot cheaper, they have continually offered me free rolls and cheesecake and their staff are actually friendly.”
Parkway has around 30 employees, many of whom have “been with us for decades”, Rabbi Gluck said. “We also support many diverse local charities and institutions.”
He said landlord Maverick Estates was not “aware of the importance of Parkway Patisserie to the local community.”
A public meeting was held to discuss the development and provide feedback on March 27 — but Parkway bosses could not attend because it was Pesach. Those who were present were told of proposals to deliver more than 22,000 sq ft of modern office space, three modern retail units, 74 new flats and a library for Church End Finchley.
A Barnet Council spokesperson confirmed that a planning application was submitted this month and “initial proposals have been revealed for an exciting new library building at Finchley Church End”.
Bakery representatives say they are now operating on a “rollover” contract after the landlord served notice to terminate the lease in November 2011. A five-year lease was offered but with a six-month break clause. Mr Paraskeva said the owners had not taken up the offer because “your average commercial contract would last at least 15 years.
“Our first lease here lasted 20 years. It’s pretty useless to have six months’ notice to get out.” There will be a hearing on the issue at Central London County Court next week. The owners are seeking a minimum 15-year contract without a break clause.