North London Food & Culture

Arancini shuts its doors after a decade – and other sad closures

What can we do about boarded-up shops? Arancini is the latest across Chalk Farm and KT

In our decade covering the comings and goings in and around the neighbourhood, we’ll always have a soft spot for Arancini Brothers. Opening back in 2011, it’s almost as old as we are.

In fact, it was one of the first of the new wave along a stretch that now boasts the impressively relaunched Anima E Cuore. When Arancini took over its then-forlorn spot, we were excited. This, in fact, was how we raved:

“Antipodean-style baristas who know their coffee inside out, tempting boards of cakes and open sandwiches, a stylish interior and lighting, and imaginative hot dishes: we loved both the arancini tortilla with slow roast chicken and salad (£5.90) and its vegetarian equivalent with braised mushrooms (£5.60). We’ll be back to try the other daily specials, such as a very aromatic chicken stew (£6.80).”

You lot were enthusiastic, too – well, at least the ones that were living here ten years ago. Arancini swiftly made our #1 reader-voted Best New Opening of 2011 (how lo-fi that poll was, if we remember correctly, totting up the votes on a napkin).


So it’s super sad news that Arancini finally closed its doors on Sunday, especially as – as you can see from our image, above – it was 100% open when we last swung by a few days ago. Which made us happy.

“After almost ten years in Kentish Town we have made the difficult decision to close down our first shop,” co-owner David Arkin says. “We’re doing everything to survive and keep our family business going, but with the recession hitting hard, and restrictions making it almost impossible to keep customers coming back, we’ve decided to down size and give all our focus to Dalston and Maltby. But we want to say a big thanks to Kentish Town.”

Pretty legendary in its day: Escapade. Photo: SE

And of course Arancini is not the only one. As we mentioned on Twitter last week, Chalk Farm Road is in a very sorry state, with the likes of Escapade, cute cafe Hygge Pygge, Carvin Hair Salon, Slanchogled (our favourite spot for cards) Gino Di Franco’s and its neighbouring burrito joint all joining the long-shut Belgo, La Porchetta, Marine Ices and Majestic Wines.

Back in Kentish Town we would really like someone to take over the once-magnificent Wine Cellar, which has never been the same since it was sold by longterm owner Nuno Lobo. And has Wahaca really just closed for ever? Maybe the original T-shirt factory should take it back again.

At least there’s a piscine new ray of hope: the old Flapjacks and latterly Think & Do pop-up shop is now the shiny new Kentish Town Fish House. We’ll report back on that soon.

The Wine Cellar, last week. Photo: SE

So, what is the solution to boarded-up shops in the pandemic? During the 2008 recession local BID Camden Town Unlimited kickstarted the now established idea of pop-ups to fill unused outlets, but is that still viable now during this long Tier 2 winter?

Or can they be repurposed to help vulnerable and disadvantaged people? What do you think? Get involved on our social media pages @kentishtowner.

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The award-winning print and online title Kentishtowner was founded in 2010 and is part of London Belongs To Me, a citywide network of travel guides for locals. For more info on what we write about and why, see our About section.