This week, the landlord of one of London's prized independent eats told owner Gaby Elyahou he could stay put, for a bit anyway. It's been a long battle for the deli's committed regulars, actively trying to save it from a looming forced closure. However, the 'Save Gaby's campaign' says the rolling four-week contract offered to Elyahou is an unfair compromise, urging fans to fight on.
To those that regularly frequent Gaby's Deli in London's West End, the place is not just about grabbing a quick, (and delicious) bite to eat - it's an institution. Bursting with fresh, tasty Middle Eastern food and walls adorned with memories, many claim the loss of Gaby's will rob London of part its identity.
See, the well-loved deli is being forced to shut after Westminster Council okayed plans by landlord, the Marquess of Salisbury and his company Gascoyne Holdings to replace it with a generic chain restaurant.
Elyahou previously told me he just cannot afford another place in the West End. He said it's the last place in the area selling the salt beef sandwich, which means the renowned dish will disappear completely from this part of London if the deli's doors shut for good.
Once they realised the threat Elyahou was facing, Gaby's fans have been putting up one hell of a fight to prevent the impending 1 May closure. They've clubbed together to create a highly active Twitter account, facebook group, online petition and regular 'Cabaret Falafel' evenings to raise awareness of the cause, telling people to write to the Marquess and make him change his mind.
So far, the campaign has done well in terms of publicity, popping up throughout the UK press over the past couple of months.
However, it's proving to be a long and difficult fight, with the Marquess writing back to campaigners this week to say he believes Elyahou has, "signed an agreement and is content with the outcome." The Marquess says he considers the matter to be closed.
But according to campaigners, the battle is far from over. The "Tenant at Will" contract Gascoyne Holdings have offered Elyahou is unfair, they say. If he signs the contract, which kicks into force on 31 August 2012, Elyahou and his deli could be booted out at any time.
"No one can run a business and employ staff on this basis," says the Save Gaby's facebook group on its wall. According to the group, Elyahou is feeling very oppressed and feels he has no option but to sign - although he hasn't done so yet.
The group is urging people to continue with the campaign to save Gaby's until the deli's future is totally secure.
"Please do write to [the Marquess] and say we don't think the matter is closed - that Gaby's needs a proper lease, not a hand to mouth existence and that we will continue to campaign vigorously until that happens," says the group.
You can see why some customers feel so passionate about the cause, with many visiting the eatery for over 50 years.
Josephine Siedlecka has been a regular since she first arrived in London in the early 70s. "The food is good and it has a great atmosphere. A peaceful oasis in the middle of the noisy West End," she says.
Kerrigan Rudon started coming to Gaby's in 1966 when he was working as an usher in the West End theatres. He says he always tries to visit when he's back in the capital.
Many high profile regulars are also fighting for Gaby's, including actor Simon Callow and director Mike Leigh.
MP Denis MacShane wrote to the Marquess, expressing his "alarm" at the threat to the establishment. MacShane told me feels passionate about keeping hold of the diner, claiming that, "Gaby's serves the best salt beef this side of New York."
"It is an authentic eatery at a time when the growth of mass production chains with same-same restaurants are taking over. Charing Cross Road is special with its second hand bookshops, theatres, The National Portrait Gallery and Gaby's," he adds.
Indeed, with more and more generic chains invading our high streets surely we need to step up and support little indie guys like Gaby's if we want to preserve some kind of identity in our cities and towns.
So, if you've ever enjoyed a falafel or salt beef buttie in this West End gem, try and help the fight! You only need to glance at the facebook campaign's 4,000 strong members and active postings to see the love there is for Gaby's.
And if you haven't ever been, make sure you pay a wee visit to Mr Elyahou and experience one of his famous treats as soon as you can, just in case the Marquess gets his way and pulls the plug on Gaby's forever.
Follow Helen Glaberson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Helen_MG