London’s Jewish community centre JW3 has said its kosher restaurant ‘Zest’ is to close for the foreseeable future owing to financial pressures, as it announced the Finchley building’s reopening.
The much-lauded eatery has been visited by thousands of British Jewish diners since the centre’s opening in 2013 but has now been shuttered as JW3 chief executive Raymond Simonson announced a “focus on core activities” on Friday.
“Due to the significant reduction in income caused by Covid-19, and the need to focus on delivering its core charitable activities with these challenging restrictions, the decision has been made by the Trustees of the charity to close all Zest operations for the foreseeable future,” the charity said.
The restaurant has had good reviews from food critics such as Giles Coren and Jay Rayner but JW3 said closing its restaurant, café and catering would help put the organisation “in the best financial position that it can”.
As lockdown restrictions imposed during the coronavirus pandemic begin to ease, JW3 said the building’s re-opening would be “careful and staggered,” with all on-site events and activities now operating in a COVID-secure framework.
Addressing the closing of operations at Zest, Simonson said: “In order to focus on our core charitable activities and support the community in new ways, we have needed to make some very difficult decisions. This has sadly left us with no option but to cease operations at Zest for now.”
During the pandemic courses and events moved online while new social action projects commenced. These included a befriending service for isolated or elderly people, as well as a food bank and meal-cooking service in partnership with Camden Council, food poverty charity Feast, and Jewish mental health charity Jami.
“The JW3 team is doing everything possible to serve the community in these difficult times,” said Simonson. “Whether online or in-person, we are continuing to deliver first-rate Jewish arts, culture, learning and family activities.”
He said he was “especially proud” of the work of volunteers who sorted, cooked, packed and delivered over 17,500 meals to local people,
The centre’s popular nursery will reopen from Monday and summer camps will run from late July, ahead of the gradual reopening of children and family activities, talks, films and performances from September.