HUNDREDS of tributes have been paid following the death of Maggie Khondoker – the Cavan woman who founded a hugely successful family-run café in south east London.
Maggies Café in Lewisham is a popular haunt for many – with its traditional Irish breakfast, hearty dinners and bottomless cups of tea bringing regulars and new customers back again and again.
This week the family-run business announced Maggie’s death, following a short “non-Covid related” illness.
In a post on the Maggie’s Café Facebook page, her children, who have been running the café in recent years, said: “Our wonderful mother, Maggie, died this morning, 28th June, after a short (non-Covid related) illness that took her from us suddenly.”
They added: “She was happy in her last days with her family around her. Our hearts are broken. Thank you for all your kind messages.
“They mean so much to us. She was a very special lady and we are so proud that she was our mum.”
The Facebook page has since been inundated with messages and tributes to Maggie, from the hundreds of customers who have gotten to know the family by visiting the café.
“Maggie was truly an amazing lady who met you with kindness and friendship the moment you stepped into the restaurant. Maggie will be missed by all who knew her,” Raymond Maguire posted.
Mr Norton added: “RIP Maggie. So committed to her tea refills the mug overflowed more often than not. A great character and a lovely and warm human being.”
The Lewisham Irish Community Centre said: “Sad to hear of the passing of Maggie from Maggie’s Cafe. Lewisham won’t be the same without you. Condolences to Maggie’s family and all at Maggie’s Cafe from all at Lewisham Irish Community Centre. Suaimhneas síoraí dá hanam.”
Maggie Khondoker (nee Fitzpatrick) left her hometown of Cootehill, Cavan aged 21 and headed for London.
Her Irish charm has always been the driving force behind her popular café, which she opened with her Pakistan-born husband in 1983.
In an interview with The Irish Post back in 2010, Maggie explained that her interest in cooking came from her mother, who “always had food on the stove”.
“No matter what time you came home – even 3am in the morning – there would be a boiled chicken and potatoes warming,” she added.
Regarding the hospitality so clearly evident in her café, Maggie explained: “We want people to feel at home and be comfortable here.
“People appreciate these things – especially in the current climate - as they always come back.
“That is very important to us, that they are happy and that we can keep charging reasonable prices for good food.”
Maggie’s sons Anthony and Oliver took over the business in 2004 and have since driven it into a new era of café offerings and customers.