Having met in Paris and spent a number of years living in France and Tunisia, Abdel Boukraa, from the island of Djerba, southern Tunisia, and his English wife, Frances, came to London in 1989 with a plan to open the only Tunisian couscous restaurant in the capital.
They recognised the potential of a long-established traditional ‘caff’, the United Café, in Shepherds Bush which was up for sale and, having renamed it after their new baby Adam, set up the beginnings of what is now a thriving family affair.
The early years were fun, very hard work, with a few setbacks…
“After we had been here for year we went to the bank and asked for a loan. We told the bank manager that we wanted to be a restaurant at night.
He said: ‘Oh yes, what is your speciality?’
So we told him it was couscous, and he asked ‘What’s that?’
I explained that it was a sort of semolina. That did it. We didn’t get the loan.”
Frances Boukraa – from the London Café Book 2
Undeterred, the Boukraas went on to extend their premises, opening in the evening with a menu serving huge couscous dishes, Moroccan tagines and delicious fresh fish. The restaurant won awards and got great reviews in the Evening Standard, The Times, The Independent and many other newspapers and magazines. Abdel and Frances went on to appear on TV and radio shows.
The doors reopened at 7pm, the café having transformed into an authentic, lively Tunisian/Moroccan restaurant serving delicious, freshly prepared aromatic dishes from the Mediterranean.
Finally, in October 2021, the time came for Abdel and Frances to retire after so many happy years.
The restaurant is changing hands to a new ambitious young couple, Giulia and Endris who will be opening their Italian restaurant soon.