Kew’s long-established Caffe Mamma Ristorante could lose its licence this evening after allegedly hiring an illegal worker.

The restaurant has been in Richmond for 36 years.

On Saturday, September 9, an Albanian national was found in the restaurant by immigration officers, who believe he has been working in the UK without a valid visa.

The worker was arrested and is now “subject to deportation”.

The shop owner has been served with a Civil Penalty Notice for employing an illegal worker which carries a maximum fine of £20,000.

A sub-committee at Richmond Council will decide this evening whether to change the conditions of the licence, remove a licensable activity- such as alcohol- from the licence, remove the restaurant’s supervisor, suspend the licence for a period of no more than three months or revoke the licence altogether.

Alternatively, the sub-committee may choose to do nothing.

One resident wrote to the council to defend the owner Jose Mendes and his staff, saying “they are a long-established, stable and most pleasant group” and describing the restaurant as a “social institution”.

They said: “Jose is always willing to go well out of his way to help: literally.

“On a recent busy Saturday morning, with no notice, no hesitation and certainly no obligation, he adapted the back seat of his car and ferried me and my elderly sister plus some large cheesecakes to a church function at St John the Divine, Kew Road - by a circuitous route owing to a traffic blockage at the Richmond Roundabout.

“This example is typical of his kindness and concern.”

The restaurant has a 4.5 rating on Trip Advisor, with 125 ‘excellent’ reviews.