World-travel and fatherhood inspire ethical Clapton business

November 21, 2017

 

 

For the past decade Rémy Zentar has been ploughing his passion for food and his wealth of travelling experience into his deli and café on Chatsworth Road.

 

The father-of-two, who grew up in Lyon in France, launched L'épicerie 56 in 2007 just after his son Izac was born. He’d been working in the catering and hospitality industry in South Africa and California and wanted to be more local.

 

He said: “When we launched, the transport was almost non-existent, the Overground trains stopped three times an hour and it wasn’t even part of TFL but I hoped it would improve.

 

 

 

“We exchanged on our house in Homerton on the day London was granted the Olympics, I hoped it would help the neighbourhood but knew there were no guarantees. A coffee shop had opened up six months before which gave me some confidence.”

 

L'épicerie 56 is one of over a hundred local and independent businesses offering discounts to members of the Local Buyers Club. Find out more here

 

“Having two young kids means I’m very conscious of the food we serve – we talk about organic naturally, but that label doesn’t necessarily mean everything. It’s important to be able to trace it.”

 

Rémy, who has also lived in Morocco and Brazil, enrolled on some food and wine courses and began researching the best, most ethical suppliers. The cheese and charcuteries they sell are imported from Paris each week and many supplies come from a UK cooperative.

 

 

 

 

“Having two young kids means I’m very conscious of the food we serve – we talk about organic naturally, but that label doesn’t necessarily mean everything. It’s important to be able to trace it.”

 

“The biggest lesson I learned is if you’re nice to people they take care of you."

 

Rémy, whose father was from Algeria, spent two years driving the length of Africa, an experience which inspired many of the foods L'épicerie 56 stocks and gave him his strong sense of community and ethics.

 

He added: “The biggest lesson I learned is if you’re nice to people they take care of you. I believe I was protected by people all the time.

 

“My experience of Africa and Brazil taught me not to waste food and I try to pass that on to my team, not just because it hurts my wallet but because it’s shocking.

 

“I don’t recruit outside of the neighbourhood, I want everyone to be able to walk to the shop to work. Some of the people I employ are as young as 14 years old and they help with restocking, some stay with us and work here full time on their gap years.”

 

The shop and café boasts a striking fresco outside, which was painted by their employee Hugo Figueira Brazão, a talented artist who works at the shop between studies.

 

Rémy’s wife Antoinette is a HR consultant and, though the couple live mainly in Belgium, he’s back regularly to run the business.

 

Rémy has been very supportive of projects to help the local community. L'epicerie 56 is a drop-off point for donations for the Hackney Food Bank and also for the Winter Toy Appeal (www.wintertoyappeal.com) which aims to provide gifts to over 2000 children living in poverty this winter. 

 

He said: “I’ve travelled a lot, but I do feel that London is my home.

 

“L'épicerie 56 is very much a family business. My boy is 11-years-old and he is advising customers on wine; he does really know about it, I’ve always talked about wine and he has a little clue –  he smells it!”

 

The business, which employs 15 full and part time staff, has just renewed its shop lease for another 16 years.

 

What is the Local Buyers Club?

 

We're on a mission to help you discover and support the best local and independent businesses.

 

We've negotiated discounts for our members at dozens of fantastic restaurants, shops, bars and businesses throughout North and East London. We help promote them and raise awareness of the advantages of shopping locally. 

 

Join Local Buyers Club and, for just £12 per year, you'll be helping to support local business and you'll receive a discount card to use at any of the 100+ businesses listed on the site. Find out how it works

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Please reload

Recent Posts
Please reload

Archive
Please reload

Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Instagram Social Icon
  • Twitter Basic Square
Featured in

Helping you live local for less

The Local Buyers Club has four very simple goals: to highlight & support London’s best independent & small-chain businesses, to save you money, to better connect communities and to support local projects benefiting those in need.

Islington-Gazette_edited.png
About Us 
Terms & Conditions
Contact Us
Privacy Policy
Cookie Policy
2019 Copyright: Local Buyers Club Ltd. All rights reserved.
Follow Us:
  • Facebook Social Icon
  • Instagram Social Icon
  • Twitter Social Icon
Sign up to receive updates of new businesses joining: