The owners of Da Maria in Notting Hill, a restaurant reviewed by The Observer's Jay Rayner last weekend, have set up a petition via change.org in a bid to save the restaurant from forced demolition. The Gate Cinema, which is owned by Cineworld, wish to extend their foyer and have submitted planning applications.
Given this would mean the forced closure of Da Maria, Luciano Ruocco, whose family (including Maria and Pasquale) have run the Neapolitan restaurant since 1980, told Eater London:
"After 37 years of business, we were shocked to find a planning application on the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC council) website which included plans and drawings to demolish our wall to expand the Gate Cinema's [adjacent] foyer.
"We are overwhelmed by the amount of support we are receiving, and we cannot thank every one enough. People from all over the world have been signing a petition set up online, it's amazing.
"The decision however lies with the RBKC whether to accept the planning application or not. We have a lot of support, but all we can do now is just hope that a positive decision comes our way."
At the time of writing, the petition has 1,566 signatures; 934 needed to reach the target of 2,500, at which point the case will be formally heard by the council.
The sudden, unexpected news came after the family returned from a summer holiday last month. The Caterer report that "the landlord Imperial Resources and architects De Rosee Sa have submitted a planning application to the RBKC council to extend the cinema’s foyer." The application states a wish for the: "Incorporation of adjacent retail/A3 unit within enlarged cinema foyer at 87 Notting Hill Gate, through formation of two openings in adjoining wall, and external alterations at ground floor level to improve the aesthetic of Gate Cinema facade."
A document submitted by De Rosee SA says, "The vision behind this proposal has been to achieve an improvement in the appearance and functionality of the cinema while also being in keeping with the character and appearance of the building.
"Proposed external alterations to the existing facade of 87-89 Notting Hill Gate have been carefully considered to enhance the appearance of the cinema and the aesthetic of the surrounding streetscape. A large aluminium framed fixed window will replace the tired Da Maria shop front,” it adds, which could be interpreted as a little insensitive.
The application's target date for a decision is 28 September, which is why Rayner and others across social media have intensified their efforts to support the Ruocco's cause.
On the petition page, Maria Piccioni from Hunstanton, comments, "Faceless huge companies are making every town a homogeneous blank space. Hard working Individuals earn the right to stay and work in their business as long as they want."
While Francesco Di Dato, from Turin, says, "it's a injustice. This places should be preserved and helped. I say NO at the closing of "da Maria London"."