A much-loved Italian restaurant in Lewisham Shopping Centre has closed after 25 years.
Ponti’s Italian Restaurant traded for the last time last Sunday. The company, which runs a number of other restaurants around London, was forced to close the establishment after the centre’s management did not renew their lease.
Customers were in tears at news that their regular meeting spot will no longer be available. Susan Covington-Baker, a housewife from Eltham, said: “It’s a shame really that it’s gone. It is a real shame for the community because this was a meeting place, a real focal point for many. Where do we go now? There aren’t many places like this.”
Another woman, who was moved to tears, but who preferred not to give her name said: “I think it’s terrible, sad. It is isn’t it because it is so popular. They are so polite. The service is excellent you know…. I have been coming here for a long long time.”
Ponti’s had been in Lewisham for more than 25 years and had operated from the same premises for over 22 years.
For those who dined regularly at the restaurant the closure came as a shock. many finding out only when they arrived on Monday morning to locked gates and a number of farewell cards sitting on the counter.
Ponti’s director Philip Inzani said: “It’s really sad to close the restaurant but our lease has come to an end and therefore it’s time to move on. We are very sad to be leaving but there really wasn’t any alternatives because of the structure of the centre.”
It is unclear what Lewisham Shopping Centre intend to do with the space. A spokeswoman for the Centre said the future use of the tenancy was still to be decided.
By Lauren Buljubasic