Coronavirus crisis causes closure of popular Banbury restaurant - but a phoenix emerges

Ilja Abbatista who is working on a new culinary business to take the place of her successful restaurant Little AmsterdamIlja Abbatista who is working on a new culinary business to take the place of her successful restaurant Little Amsterdam
Ilja Abbatista who is working on a new culinary business to take the place of her successful restaurant Little Amsterdam
Banbury loses a popular restaurant as Little Amsterdam owner Ilja Abbatista announces the North Bar eatery will not reopen after the Covid-19 lockdown.

The award-winning restaurant has become the latest victim of the coronavirus crisis as the enforced shutdown has meant little or no income for months. However the chef is planning a new dining experience for her followers.

Ms Abbatista described the decision not to reopen as a 'huge wrench'.

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"Being half Dutch, Little Amsterdam was based on the inspirational city of Haarlem in The Netherlands, where I was born. But I am not a person to sit and mope about what could have been and I am starting out on a new venture," she said.

"As my restaurant, along with many others, is closing, I will be re-opening as a unique and amazing sit-down, take-away and home-delivery restaurant."

Ms Abbatista opened Little Amsterdam in 2014 and within nine months received the Cafe of the Year award. It was one of only three Oxfordshire restaurants to be featured in the book Where Chefs Eat above Raymond Blanc's Le Manoir Aux Quat Saisons.

"Every year we were getting busier and busier and it was fabulous. I loved every minute of it," said Ms Abbatista. "My staff and customers were fabulous. I got to know many of them and am proud to call them my friends.

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"2020 was going to be my year but sadly that wasn’t meant to be and it is with deep regret that we will not be opening our doors again as Little Amsterdam. But it isn't all over."

Ms Abbatista's chef’s knowledge, built up over over twenty-five years, will be poured into making mouth-watering and new exciting dishes. The restaurant premises in North Bar is undergoing a complete metamorphosis to give her customers a new and authentic experience.

Ms Abbatista is also finalising plans to produce a selection of cooking aids and is in talks to import a revolutionary organic product which she will unveil soon.

She is pushing ahead with daring changes at a time when uncertainty is gripping the world. But with her culinary talent and customary hard work, Banbury is in for a n exciting new treat.