Your one-stop EUROs showcase

11 June 2021

With the UEFA European Football Championships returning to Wembley this June and July, we showcase some of the great local businesses with EURO connections.

Supporting Italy:

‘C’mon you Blues’ will be ringing out in Willesden Green as the Sanzio Italian Restaurant get behind the Italian team.

Maria Sundrica has been running the restaurant in Brent for the last 10 years. Maria is really looking forward to the European Championships and believes Italy can go all the way this year.

“The European championships is chance to celebrate different cultures and that’s what I love about living in Brent. I love the diversity and international feel of this place and the people are so relaxed and friendly. I used to run my business in Hackney but we feel much happier in Brent”.

Another Italy fan is Adam Clarke who runs Sacro Cuore Pizza in Queens Park.

Adam started his business nearly ten years ago and said: “What’s very important to me is that whatever you do, you do it the best that you can, so I wanted to create the best pizzas. We import our food every week from Italy, have an Italian brick oven that was imported from Naples, and all my chefs are from there, so it’s completely authentic. We don’t cut any corners. If you want a great product, you need to have the best ingredients, as well as soul and passion.”

Adam added: “Part of the reason why I love Brent is because it’s so multicultural, and there’s people from everywhere here. The Euro will be a great celebration because we’ve all been stuck in our own countries for over a year now, and we can hopefully let our hair down.”

 

Taking their chances with Turkey:

Over at Neasden Fish & Chips, owner Mehmet Selvi and his staff will be supporting England at the European Championships, but keeping an eye out for Turkey as well.

Mehmet, originally from Turkey, has run this local Fish and Chips shop in Neasden for 40 years and will be cheering on his adopted country England this summer.

Mehmet said “Brent is such a great place to live and work and the people are so friendly and have supported my business during lockdown”.

His favourite player is Harry Kane and he’d like to see him lift the trophy this year as it would give everybody such a boost after a difficult year. England are due to win a big trophy soon and Mehmet thinks the European Championships could be the one after such a long time without a trophy.

Mehmet’s Fish and Chip is a local favourite in Neasden and he’s looking forward to serving his ‘Champion Chips’ long into the future!

 

The home advantage:

Sophie Grey and Karen Street run the Crazy Baker, an artisan bakery and wholesaler based in North West London. Sophie shares: “I opened in 2009, then Karen became my business partner a few years later, and now we run the whole thing together with a second café opening in Kensal Rise soon, as well as cookery classes.

“We get lots of regular customers and I enjoy looking after people whatever their circumstances. I still live locally because there’s a sense of community in the area, which I really like.

Sophie explains how the café will prepare for the Euro: “With any sporting events like the Euro, we’ll make food that’s themed with that in mind, so the café will support by making cupcakes decorated with a team logo. It’s really exciting.”

 

Portugal for the win:

Joe Santos’ family always worked in restaurants and catering which gave him a good grounding to take over Forte Novo Café from his mother.

“I always wanted to have a bar, so I introduced alcohol to the cafe. My wife now helps me manage it too, and she’s helped to turn it into more of a restaurant. It’s a very friendly family business, and we love to welcome everyone.”

“When non-Portuguese people come into the shop, we love telling them about the products and all our different cheeses. We like to talk a lot and share what we have. We’re just here to help and serve the community.”

Joe added: “Football has always been a big part of Portuguese culture. Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the world’s best football players, so because he plays for the Portuguese team, everyone gets really excited for the matches, and the world is watching.”

 

Rooting for Romania:

Rica Sicleanu owns Rica’s Hair and Beauty in Dollis Hill. “Owning a salon was my dream as a child. I started the business in 2013 and knew that it wouldn’t be easy, but this is my passion, so I do it with pleasure.”

“During lockdown I missed being able to socialise at the salon and make someone’s day better. My staff and customers are so inspiring, and I’ve always been a people’s person. I like feeling like I have a sense of family around me, so I’m really at home

Her Dad was a huge football fan. She said: “Each time a big team is playing like Romania or England, then I try to get involved. If they’re both playing against each other in the Euro, then I don’t know who I’ll support – it depends on who’s winning!”

 

Just across the Irish Sea:

“Back in Ireland we had a family run pub, so I grew up in that environment. It’s something I really enjoy doing” shared Katrina. Katrina Comer opened The Parish Bar in Wembley in 2013.

“We built up our business over the years, so it’s become almost an institution in Wembley. Here at the Parish, it’s all about building a community.”

“There are a lot of first and second generation Irish people in the area, and Irish people tend to find one another quite easily. When you are from a different country in London it can be quite lonely, so when Irish people come in, we make them feel welcome and encourage them to meet new people. If you come in by yourself, you’ll leave with 10 friends.”

Katrina added: “Pub culture and football go hand in hand. The pub is where people meet and get hyped for the game. I’m really looking forward to the Euros. It will be a massive outlet for people after the year we’ve had.”

  

Halim’s Traditional Barbers – Halim Ghalem:

“It was my dream to open my own business. so 19 years ago I just decided to go for it. I love hairdressing and barbering.

I get to see 20 different nationalities every day. You get Irish, English, Somali, North African, Eastern European people, and more.

“In the barbers, people tell me their stories, life problems, and talk to me about everything. It’s therapy for a lot of people. This isn’t just about cutting hair, it’s more than that.”

Halim shares: “Amongst us, we speak French, Spanish, Bulgarian, Polish, Russian, and much more, so it helps customers when you speak a few languages. On the weekend we put on Sky Sports, and we all support different countries. The conversation in here is always about football, so the Euro will create a nice atmosphere.”

 

Eastern European food & wine:

Mos shares: “Initially we started just selling Romanian and Polish sausages, but then we expanded to Hungarian, Lithuanian, Latvian, and most recently Bulgarian food. We pride ourselves in listening to our customers and providing what they want.”

“Part of running a store is about being at one with the local community, so that’s really important to us. My wife Mumtaz is particularly strong at connecting with the locals. You don’t get that in a supermarket"

“Many times, our customers are first. generation Eastern Europeans. My wife and I were also immigrants here 40 to 50 years ago, so we know what it’s like and we can help people going through the same thing. It’s especially important during COVID, where so many people have been lonely.”

Mos says: “Maybe the Euro is the best time to show how multicultural Brent is, because if we did something that celebrated every nation and their participation in the games, then that would highlight that Brent is a place that embraces everyone.”

Then and now:

It will be 25 years since the Euros was last held at Wembley. Much has changed since Euro 96.

 

Now famous for its huge arch which even has Facebook groups dedicated to it, Wembley Stadium used to be well known for its twin towers. Demolished in the early 2000s to make way for the current building, the venue has been host to hundreds of standout moments.

The most recent update to  the stadium is the 48 Olympic Steps which replace the ramps (also called the pedway) that took fans from Wembley Park tube station directly  to the stadium.

Gareth Southgate’s penalty:

In 1996, England reached the semi-finals of the EUROS in which they faced Germany. The match was determined by a penalty shoot-out. Southgate (left), who had played every minute of every match, had his penalty saved and England were eliminated from the completion. Fast forward 25 years and with his playing career behind him, the England manager will hope to lead the team to victory on their home turf.

 

A Sterling player:

Only a baby when Gareth Southgate was lining up to take the penalty in 1996, Raheem Sterling grew up just a few minutes away from the world famous stadium. The talented England and Manchester City star, who once had a dream to rule the Wembley pitch, is now inspiring thousands of other young Brent residents.

 

Places to visit in Brent:

Thinking of other places to visit in the borough while the EUROs are on? Why not visit one of these landmarks nearby.

Ace Café:

Originally opened in 1938, the current Ace Café London is a café and venue known all around the world as “the home” for petrolheads. A hub for car, motorbike and rock and roll enthusiasts, the café welcomes everyone
who wants to find out more about their
rich traditions.

In 2019, the Ace Café was presented with a ‘red wheel’ recognising its contribution to the history of transport. Following on from the iconic original cafe in Brent, Ace venues can now also be found in Beijing, Barcelona and Florida, amongst many others across the globe.

The world's most famous motor café is currently open for food and drink.

 

The Kiln:

Winner of “Best London Theatre” by The Stage Awards, the highest profile theatre awards in the UK, the Kiln has a 292 seat theatre alongside a 300 seat cinema, a bar, restaurant and café, plus three rehearsal spaces.

The Kiln reopened its doors in May with a one woman show – “Reasons you should(n’t) love me” by
Amy Trigg.

Also on show as part of the Kiln’s reopening season programme is Zadie Smith’s debut play the “Wife of Willesden” and the The NW Trilogy sees playwrights Moira Buffini, Suhayla El-Bushra and Roy Williams explore stories from Brent’s diverse communities.

Find out more and book – www.kilntheatre.com

 

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Neasden Temple:

Neasden Temple is one of the biggest cultural icons in Brent.  Opened in August 1995, the Temple was the largest mandir (Hindu temple) outside of India. Since being open the temple has won a host of awards and is on the London Tourist Board as one of the places to visit in the UK.

Anyone in the world can visit the temple and to date more than 10.5 million visitors from over 120 countries, including over 18,000 schools and educational groups have visited.

 

Fryent County Park:

A hidden gem in North West London to rival the likes of Hampstead Heath, Fryent County Park has over 100 hectares of meadows, woods, hedgerows and ponds. The highest point of the park, Barn Hill, rises to 86m.

Great for walkers and wildlife spotters, there are more than 800 species of wildlife including 80 recorded birds, 21 butterflies and 500 wild flowers.

A designated nature reserve, it is also used by local conservation volunteer groups like Friends of Fryent Park and the Barn Hill Conservation Group, as well as recreation use.