Greek restaurant Kalamari to close after nearly 30 years

Image: Addie Gula outside of Kalamari 4 Chiswick High Road; Photograph by Matt Smith

Owner decides to sell popular Greek restaurant on Chiswick High Road

After nearly three decades, the owner of the popular family-run Greek restaurant Kalamari is preparing to close its doors for the final time.

Kalamari’s owner Addie Gula says he has decided now is the time to close this chapter in his life and is selling the popular restaurant to new owners, who will be converting the business into a Turkish restaurant.

Reflecting on his journey, Addie said his entrepreneurial spirit was sparked by years of working in a Greek restaurant in Bayswater, but his path to Chiswick was somewhat serendipitous.

“I found this place by accident to be honest with you,” Addie told The Chiswick Calendar. “In the very beginning I wanted to buy a place which was just across the road which used to be La Petite Bretagne, the French restaurant. For some reason I turned around to the right hand side and I saw this restaurant was for sale…”

The early days were not without challenges. The restaurant he acquired had a tarnished reputation, but Addie’s optimism and determination drove him forward.

“It was hard, it was difficult I must admit – buying a restaurant with a bad name and a bad reputation, which I realised then afterwards… But with a healthy determination there were no obstacles.”

His belief in the power of hard work and positivity helped him transform a failed business location into a community favourite.

Images: Addie with a picture if his younger self and Paul Shane from Hi-de-Hi!, a blurry picture from the early 2010s of Addie and Timothy Dalton; Photograph (L) by Matt Smith; (R) Facebook

A favourite of Vanessa Redgrave’s and Timothy Dalton’s

Over the years, Kalamari has seen its fair share of memorable moments and famous faces. A picture of a much younger Addie hangs on the wall with Paul Shane from Hi-de-Hi! “He was an amazing guy”.

Addie fondly remembers his celebrity patrons, some of whom he describes as fond friends. Vanessa Redgrave and her mother were regular customers as was Guy Ritchie.

“Vanessa came in with her mum and introduced me to her. She said my mum is quite an old lady, she likes to have fish grilled with a nice lemon and garlic sauce and lemon juice and nice fresh vegetables.”

After that, Vanessa’s mum came to the restaurant sometimes five times per week. Even James Bond himself, Timothy Dalton, was a fan, praising Addie’s kalamari, grilled prawns and lamb kleftiko “to die for”.

Image: Patrons in Kalamari; Photograph by Matt Smith

Chiswick community has ‘changed me for the better’

The decision to sell the restaurant was not an easy one, but for Addie, it marks the end of one chapter and the beginning of another.

“Every end has a new beginning. The book has a few chapters, some chapters are good and some are bad. In order to know the book, you need to go to the end if you want to know the story.”

He speaks with pride about his children, noting their accomplishments as a sign that it’s time for him to move on. “The kids have grown up… I think I’ve closed the chapter.”

Parting with the restaurant evokes a mix of emotions for Addie.

“Your habits become your character and the character becomes your destination… I must say being in Chiswick for 30 years, I met lots of nice people and lots of people who supported me.”

The Chiswick community, he believes, has profoundly shaped his personality and life.

“When you come as a boy and leave as a man, you’ve got lots of memories and lots of history… Chiswick is quite middle class. I have improved myself in a way. The circle of Chiswick has an impact on improving your personality and your life.”

Images: The restaurant empty; Facebook 

Facing the future with a sense of peace, Addie channels his training as a teacher in philosophy and sociology:

“To be honest with you in my life I have never believed in a past because it brings me depression. The future for me… has always been unpredictable, it’s a mysticism. I believe in a present which brings my peace.”

The restaurant’s new owners plan to convert it into a Turkish establishment, a transition that Addie embraces without prejudice – as some might assume Greeks and Turks do not traditionally get along.

“As long as they improve it, that’s the purpose of us being in this world – I don’t want to be going back, as long as they can prove they’ll improve it I’ll be happy.”

Though there is no set date for the restaurant’s closure, Kalamari will close within the next two weeks, no later than 27 June.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar