A new Italian restaurant has opened its doors to the public on Jerome Place, next to the Kingston Upon Thames riverside walk. This is Eco’s second establishment in Greater London.
The opening event on Thursday 21 October attracted local influencers, press, friends and family. Guests got the opportunity to sample food, such as arancini and pizza, while dancing to pop-music played by a local DJ.
Charmaine Wasif, a former architecture student at Kingston University and the managing director of the restaurant, said: “There’s a great quality of customers in Kingston who will appreciate our fine dining. It’s a beautiful town, very buzzy, vibrant and full of students.”
The borough’s Mayor, Councillor Sushila Abraham, and her husband Dr. Mathew Abraham were also present at the event to cut the ribbon.
The mayor said: “It is fantastic to see a new establishment opening up in Kingston. It’s wonderful that this is a family-run business. Businesses like this one really enrich our borough.”
The first Eco was opened in 1993 on Clapham High Street by Egyptian-born chef Sami Wasif at the time when London’s restaurant scene was thriving.
The name ‘Eco’ was inspired by Italian author and professor, Umberto Eco, as a film about him – ‘The Name of the Rose’ – was playing next door at The Clapham Picture House. Eco’s code-breaking skills are akin to the restaurant’s ethos.
Sami Wasif grew up in Beni Suef, Egypt. His grandfather, Gerges, was praised for his expertise in sourdough making, a skill he passed down generationally. On the day of the opening of Kingston’s branch of Eco, Sami was standing next to his chefs preparing the sourdough pizzas.
The staff of the Ecorestaurants form the basis of its uniqueness. Charmaine Wasif said: “Everyone here shows daily dedication to work, they love what they do, they show up every day. They really appreciate people and clients have appreciated us for the past 28 years.”
Jannett Jindi, who runs Eco’s Head Office, has known the family since the first Eco opened. She said: “So many things have had to close [because of the pandemic], so it’s good to have new businesses opening up again.”
The family is looking forward to reaching a whole new audience in South West London. Charmaine Wasif added: “We are curious to know what Kingston upon Thames has to offer to us.”