Gaby Elyahou taking a break (left)
|Food type||Jewish, Middle Eastern|
|Street address||30 Charing Cross Road|
Gaby's Deli was a family Jewish and Middle Eastern restaurant in London's Charing Cross Road. It was named after the founder, Gaby Elyahou, who ran it with his family. It was threatened by closure in 2011 but a campaign by its many celebrity customers, including prominent actors and politicians, persuaded the landlord, Lord Salisbury, to grant a further lease. It closed at the end of October 2018, following the owner's retirement.
It was founded in 1965 by an Iraqi refugee, Gaby Elyahou, who took over an existing salt beef bar. The landlord was Lord Salisbury whose property company, Gascoyne Holdings, threatened to close the business by not extending the lease in 2011. Celebrities from theatre and politics campaigned to save it and these included Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn, Miriam Margolyes and Vanessa Redgrave. Gaby retired in 2018 and his nephew Menachem Kojman, who helped him run the deli after he closed his own restaurant, decided that the deli could no longer compete against fast food chains and would close in October 2018.
The deli was popular with theatrical celebrities because it was in London's Theatreland district and it served quick and tasty meals. Charlie Chaplin was a regular customer and other stars commemorated by photographs inside the restaurant included Diana Rigg and Matt Damon. The restaurant was also popular with left-wing politicians such as Ken Livingstone because it was near Trafalgar Square, which is often the location of demonstrations and protest marches.
The restaurant already served salt beef when Gaby took over and he thought this made the best sandwich. He introduced espresso coffee and many varieties of salad. Mediterranean dishes such as hummus and tahini were served and Gaby claimed to have introduced falafels to London. Other dishes included goulash, meatballs and soup.
Matthew Norman reviewed the restaurant for The Daily Telegraph, giving it a rating of 9 out of 10. The dishes which he praised included bean and barley soup, chicken livers fried with onions, and a spinach salad. His party then ordered more food and he especially praised the salt beef:
Kleftiko with lukewarm chips and Hungarian goulash with excellent saffron rice were fine winter warmers, but the clear highlight was my salt beef in rye bread with sweet and sour pickles. The beef was plentiful, juicy and just as fatty as it should be. Lean salt beef is, as my mother puts it, like having a bath with your socks on. With its bustle, warmth and earthy charm, Gaby's is our best answer to the great New York delis such as the Carnegie...— Matthew Norman, The Daily Telegraph, 27 January 2012
The restaurant closed at 8.30pm on 31 October 2018.
- Sherwood, Harriet (21 October 2018). "More than 50 years on, central London Jewish deli Gaby's is to close". The Guardian.
- Jenny Linford (18 September 2012), At Gaby's Deli, Spitalfields Life
- David Firn (30 December 2011), "Johnson joins fight to save London deli", Financial Times
- Marina O'Loughlin (14 September 2015), "Value for money and unassuming decor – no wonder Jeremy Corbyn is a fan of Gaby's Deli", The Guardian
- James Hanning (12 September 2015), "Jeremy Corbyn: Visiting the Labour leader's favourite restaurant – Gaby's Deli", The Independent
- Vanessa Thorpe (11 December 2011), "Stars unite to save the falafels that fuelled theatreland", The Observer
- Matthew Norman (27 January 2012), "Restaurant review: Gaby's Deli, London", The Daily Telegraph
- Helen Pearce (16 September 2015), "Gaby's Deli is loved by the left", The Guardian
- Alistair Foster (20 June 2012), "Gaby's Deli saved! Theatreland campaign wins West End diner stay of execution for a year", London Evening Standard