Solly’s in Golders Green dished up its final shwarma last week after 23 years. Here, Francine Wolfisz offers some food for thought on a kosher institution
Last week the doors finally closed on Solly’s, a beloved culinary institution that graced Golders Green Road for more than two decades and without which loyal fans feared “schwarmageddon” would descend.
From warm laffa and pitta filled with succulent lamb, chicken and beef, hummous, grilled aubergine and of course lashings of tahini to thick-cut chips, Moroccan cigars and chicken soup, Solly’s quickly became a foodie favourite after its doors opened in 1991.
Just three years later, Israeli owner Solly Sade, who lent his name to the popular eatery, expanded the business onto the upper floor with Solly’s Exclusive, a sit-down restaurant that attracted customers from far and wide.
Photographs adorning the walls show the restaurant in its heyday, with Sade proudly pictured alongside the likes of Uri Geller, Peter Ustanov and Maureen Lipman, as well as Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the late Shas spiritual leader, and Rabbi Israeli Mair Lau, Israel’s former Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi.
In 2000, Sade tragically died from pancreatic cancer, aged 56. More than 100 staff and customers took part in a funeral procession through Golders Green and the restaurant was closed for a week as a mark of respect.
His widow, Linda, took over the business and the restaurant remained a popular kosher hotspot for adults, youngsters and teenagers alike. But seven years later, tragedy struck again when Solly’s was severely damaged by a blaze and the restaurant was fined almost £17,000 for fire safety breaches.
Solly’s Exclusive remained closed, but the downstairs restaurant and takeaway opened its doors again just months later.
Now it seems this staple of communal life for the past 20 years has finally served its final shwarma and fans last week took to Twitter to decry the end of an institution.
Even Harry Styles joined the tributes, with his spokesman revealing the One Direction heartthrob was “mortified” at the news.
Rumours abound that the restaurant might reopen in a new location. For now at least, the rotisseries have stopped and the shutters are down, but we still have the memories.