The following article was featured in the Islington Tribune (5 February, 2016 by KOOS COUVÉE)
When staff at Forks and Corks, a deli, café and meeting place in Highgate, were told the business would shut and move to Archway, many were sceptical.
But manager Mehdi Sekelli believes prospects for the business have improved following its move last year to Hill House, the former office block next to Archway tube station which is being converted into private flats.
Only Forks and Corks and a barber shop operate in the windswept parade of shops while loud drilling from builders continues overhead – a far cry from the former premises in leafy Swain’s Lane. But Mr Sekelli insisted: “It’s fantastic to be here. It’s an amazing spot. For me, it’s more interesting to be here [than in Highgate].”
He added: “I’ve seen the design of the whole new building and it will be amazing. It looks top of the range.”
However, just six months after moving in, Forks and Corks has been told it will have to shut for between three months and a year to allow building work to continue.
The business will reopen next door, in premises formerly occupied by betting shop William Hill.
However, its flamboyant manager, who is also a music promoter, is not fazed by the thought of closure and another move. He said: “The premises next door are even better. It’s going to be a fantastic place.”
The deli has a piano, a licence to serve alcohol and hosts a weekly open mic night on Thursdays as well as live music gigs, mainly jazz. It also hosts cinema nights. “We’re going to become a very good music venue,” Mr Sekelli added.
Hill House, the larger of the 1960s blue and white office blocks in Archway, is to be re-clad, with a second entrance from Archway Mall.
The plan is to build 141 “luxury bedsits” between the 17-storey Archway Tower and the Premier Inn hotel at Hamlyn House which is also under construction.
Developer Bode Ltd has applied for permission to add two more storeys at Hill House for nine additional homes and rooftop terraces.
Mr Sekelli said: “This area is coming up. There are so many artistic people, musicians and poets. We want this to be a friendly, unusual place, where people feel comfortable. Something that looks like a lounge in the evening.”
The planning application for the additional storeys is expected to come before Islington’s planning committee in the spring.