The miserable struggles of living above a restaurant

They won’t stop inviting you in for dinner

Nobody ever chooses to live above a restaurant: it’s a compromise borne out of a desperation to find somewhere – anywhere – to live and an unwillingness to consider anywhere far out. They are rarely particularly nice flats: they are owned by landlords who know nobody else is ever going to want to buy property above a glorified kebab house so there’s little need to worry about upkeep.

That’s not to say that living in one of these flats is terrible. After all, your friends will never get lost on their way over. “Remember, it’s the one above the really shit restaurant?” “Got it, mate”.

On moving in day, you joke about how you’ll eat there all the time

“That’s an interesting looking place downstairs isn’t it? Should come in handy any night we can’t be bothered to cook. Imagine they’ll be sick of the sight of us after a while.”

Two weeks in and a menu comes through the letterbox

At least now you know what Moroccan food is. You’re not quite sure what a tagine is at this stage but if it’s got chicken in you reckon it can’t be that bad. You put the menu in the drawer with all the others.

The waiters keep taking their smoking break outside your front door

It’s not a problem, really it’s not. Obviously they work hard and they have to go for a break somewhere. It’s just really inconvenient when you come running down the stairs half-pissed to head out to Brixton and you nearly slam the door into them. Maybe if they weren’t always there it wouldn’t bug you so much.

You meet the owner for the first time

He seems lovely and you chat pleasantly for a couple of minutes. He tells you about the history of the restaurant for a bit and about his family. It’s all going so well until he says: “You should come and eat here sometime! We’ll give you the best seat in the house.”

You swallow. Of course, you say. He doesn’t seem convinced. The eyes narrow. You add, hastily: “We’ve been talking about it for a while, just waiting for the right day really.”

His smile has gone. That best seat in the house is a lie.

Is anyone ever really in the mood for Lebanese?

Is anyone ever really in the mood for Lebanese?

Something smells odd

You’re not sure what it is but you got in one day and there was something different, a smell hanging in the air unpleasantly. You could blame your flatmate but they never cook. Also they’ve gone skiing. You know – reluctantly, you concede – it is the restaurant.

You keep receiving mail intended for the restaurant

At first you just leave it by the front door and don’t really think about it. Then the owner starts trying to catch you every time you come home from work to ask if you happen to have received a letter or two intended for them. He even starts pressing the buzzer for your flat at the most unsociable hours to ask if there’s anything waiting for him. Eventually you give in and start running it over in person as soon as it arrives. Each time it becomes more obvious that you have not eaten there.

You realise you don’t actually have a fire escape

It’s OK, the chances of them setting their kitchen on fire have got to be one in a million, right?

A restaurant a few streets away burns down

Shit.

You order takeaway but can’t bring yourself to order from downstairs

You will next time, it’s just right now you’re more in the mood for a Chinese.

You order another takeaway

It’s just still not the right vibe for food from downstairs. Besides, surely they’d find it weird that we’d rather get takeaway than sit in the restaurant? You don’t want them to think you’re stranger than they do already do you?

Just what I needed

Just what I needed

The restaurant downstairs is on JustEat

“Let’s just pretend we didn’t notice it was there, yeah?”

You finally cave and go to eat there

It’s happened. For some reason, you decide Monday evening is the best time to go, despite the fact there’s literally nobody else in the restaurant. You shuffle in and get shown to a too-wobbly table by the window. A quick look at the menus informs you that it’s BYOB so one of you dashes upstairs to grab whatever bottles of wine you have lying around. Fuck, you have to pay for corkage now too.

An hour later, nobody else has come into the restaurant and you’re looking at your sad meal.

“Why didn’t we just get takeaway and eat upstairs?”

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