Adriana Zymberaj opened Adriana’s Café in September 2018. When she opened, she actually had a visit from the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s Mayor Councillor Marie-Therese Rossi and deputy Mayor Councillor Mohammed Bakhtiar. The two arrived in full regalia to wish her well with her new business.
Adriana’s Café is in a leafy North Kensington spot on St Helens Gardens. The café has a smartly decorated interior and there’s a patio at the front for those sunny days. The fact that the café has carefully considered décor is no accident – Adriana studied interior décor for a time.
Adriana came to Britain some 24 years ago, escaping the volatile political and military situation that engulfed Kosovo as Yugoslavia fell apart in the 1990s. Originally, she arrived in London as a student, studying architecture. “I still get back to Kosovo every summer, Adriana says, “but London is my home now.”
And Adriana and her family, her partner and her two sons, were unlucky enough to get caught up in one of London’s most terrible incidents in living memory. She had lived in Grenfell Tower for 16 years when she and her family escaped from the terrible fire that ripped through the building in June 2017. They lost everything.
When she opened the café, one of her regulars, TV adventurer Ben Fogle, tweeted, “I love Adriana. She lost her home in Grenfell. Then our local cafe where she worked closed. Still living in temp accom. She has now opened her own cafe #hope #resilience #grenfell #adriana #hero.”
“Opening this business has actually helped me to get over the trauma of that night,” Adriana says. “It has kept me busy and taken my mind away from that terrible tragedy.”
The café is actually Adrian’s first business, but the site is one that she is more than familiar with. “I’d actually worked at the café that was here before I took over the lease,” Adriana explains. “I’d been doing that on and off for the last 10 years.”
Nevertheless, setting up a business on her own for the first time had plenty of challenges, and that was where the Portobello Business Centre came in. “A friend told me about the Business Centre so I got in touch,” Adriana says, “and they assigned Colin Rutt as my adviser.”
“Colin was really a great help with all the details that come up when you’re setting up a business,” Adriana continues. “He knew all the right people to get in touch with for things like getting the necessary permissions to have seats out in front of the café. His expertise and knowledge saved me an enormous amount of time. In fact all of the staff at the Business Centre were very professional and helpful.”
Adriana goes on to describe what’s on offer at her café. “Everything we serve is made from scratch by our chef. We offer full breakfast and lunch menus seven days a week, and the menus change frequently. There are six different salads each day plus baked goods and dishes include things like cottage pie, homemade fishcakes and chicken with couscous. We always offer healthy options and there’s also a children’s menu.
“It’s great to see regular customers from when I worked here returning now that I’ve opened as my own business. And the people at the Portobello Business Centre were such a help in making it all possible.”
Adriana’s Café & Eatery
55 St Helens Gardens
London W10 6LN