Belgravia institution The Ebury Restaurant and Wine Bar is set to close its doors for the last time on Friday 22 December.
Established in 1959, The Ebury was sold to current proprietor Nigel Windridge and three friends in 1973 for £24,000, following the retirement of its founding custodians. Windridge claims the dubious accolade of having served only one customer on his first night as newly-minted co-owner and manager — Sarah Churchill, a local resident and daughter of Winston, who “relentlessly” recited her poetry to him while apparently doing her best to match her father’s formidable talent for consumption, before being bundled into a cab home at closing time.
And yet despite the slow start, it is only now, after 44 years as owner/operator that Windridge has decided it’s time to call it quits. In an announcement on its website, Windridge says that as he approaches his 69th birthday, he has “decided to retire at the end of the year.” Those 44 years have seen The Ebury establish itself as a Belgravia icon, and the heart of its own community — Nigel met his now wife and co-owner Elizabeth there when she started as a waitress in 1977, before the pair married in 1978.
As part of the Grosvenor estate, the strip of Elizabeth Street that leads to the Ebury Street junction on which the restaurant sits is changing — and the instalment of American baker Dominique Ansel on the street last year (replacing a newsagent) pointed to a desire from the landlord to try and emulate the more chichi (and modern) west side of the street. But after its nearly 60-year tenure, the whimsical trompe l’oeil interiors of the Ebury will be missed.
The Ebury’s final service will be Friday 22 December, though there is as yet no indication as to what will happen to the venue following its closure.