I was born in Crystal Palace in 1990. Regardless of the time I’ve spent living in other areas, it will always be my true home. I’m always shocked when I return to find something new standing brazenly in the landscape that is so familiar to me, as though it has always been there.
However, there is one sight that has always been there. I’m speaking of course, of Lorenzos’.
My brother and I were always told that our monthly dinner at Lorenzos was a special treat. The memories are no less special despite the knowledge it wasn’t so much a treat for us, and more due to the inability to find a babysitter (we were horrible).
I have shrieked the place down due to ice cream denial, hosted junior fight club events with my brother and run riot with my friends while our parents drank red wine and pretended we didn’t belong to them. I once very nearly gave a lady a heart attack during an ill-advised game of hide and seek, when I revealed myself from under the basin as she was about to sit on the loo.
Despite being everything I have come to hate during my own career in hospitality, we were always made to feel welcome and I was always waved away with a cuddle and an extra after 8 by Emma.
Shortly after I celebrated my ninth birthday at Lorenzos’ (as my daughter would many years later) my sister was born, and we went from a table of four, to a table of four, with a highchair and an extra plate.
Lorenzos has been the backdrop to so many important Heaton Family events that I can’t imagine a Crystal Palace without the iconic green clad shop front.
The first time I successfully sneaked a glass of wine past my parents (not such an achievement, you could’ve sneaked an elephant past them in that state) was in Lorenzos’. The fateful weekend my brother and I were both dumped by our first loves, our mum took us to Lorenzos’ when she could take no more of the teenage angst and repeated playing of Blink 182s “I Miss You”. We went to Lorenzos when my brother turned 18 and again when I moved to Ireland. I was late and they ate without me, but you see the point. When each of us went to university, including my parents who were mature students (my dad and I being fresher’s on the same year) all celebrations took place with good food, laughs and our version of love, Wine and Garlic.
Lorenzos is undoubtedly special to me, however I doubt my story is special. There must be families living all over Crystal Palace who can recall great family laughs or loves or losses in Lorenzos or any one of the other fabulous restaurants and bars that make up our triangle.
It’s now at these times, that it’s most important that we celebrate and support those unique and vibrant businesses that we love. The people of Crystal Palace don’t do chains or uniformity. We’ve managed to keep the triangle the way it is by bringing the vibe of the village in to the urban setting with our unfaltering and unbeaten community spirit.
I know this is a difficult time for all of us but I hope we can continue to remember all the times these businesses were here for us.