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End of an era at shortlisted cafe

Helmsley Walled Garden Cafe with Observer Food Monthly award winner and  Cafe Manager Monica Gripaios retiring .Picture Richard ponter 124442

Helmsley Walled Garden Cafe with Observer Food Monthly award winner and Cafe Manager Monica Gripaios retiring .Picture Richard ponter 124442

A hattrick of successes in a national food awards scheme comes as the end of an era at dawns at Helmsley’s Walled Garden cafe.

For the third time the Vinehouse Cafe has been named runner up in the ethical section of the Observer Food Monthly Awards 2012.

The prized accolade comes as the cafe’s owner Monica Gripaios shuts up shop for winter for the final time as she hangs up her apron after 13 years at the hidden beauty spot.

After deciding it was time to retire Ms Gripaios, 61, is leaving the cafe in good hands as her son, who works as a chef in London, will be stepping in to take over the business when it reopens in the spring.

Speaking about the award success Ms Gripaios said: “We were nominated by our customers, who have been very loyal over the years.

“Its great publicity because the Observer is a national publication, and it is very well regarded as they have a lot of top chefs as reviewers, so it is great to be on their pages.”

The Vinehouse was recognised in the awards for its use of fruit and vegetable from the Walled Garden, which itself is a community charity providing horticultural therapy and education.

In her 13 years at the cafe Ms Gripaios said it has been “lovely watching the garden grow into a little corner of paradise”.

She has also seen many changes at the cafe, after taking it over and turning it into a vegetarian eatery. The business itself has grown from a small conservatory with four tables inside and four outside, to a vast glass covered court yard serving a least 50 covers.

And more changes lay on the horizon with the arrival of Ms Gripaios’ son. She said: “He’s got lots of exciting plans, and is looking at introducing fine dining.

“I daresay I’ll keep coming back. Its hard work running the cafe. Every year it gets busier and every year I get older. I’ll miss the customers the most, I’ve developed a real core group of very faithful customers.”

 

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