For many small family-owned businesses, maintaining a connection to heritage and tradition is crucial. 'Benita Bakery' in Highbury & Islington, North London, delivers its customers a warm and homely atmosphere with delicious flavours and recipes, many of which are inspired by the family's Spanish heritage. A wholesome alternative to regular chain coffee shops with the same recycled toasties and wraps, this bakery has unique pastries and sandwiches made fresh in their In-house bakery every morning. 

Bakery owner Pilar Llamas Monzon shared how her family's history in Gran Canaria- specifically her grandmother Benita- influenced her passion for food and how she raises her family in London. "In Spanish culture, food and family are connected. Eating homemade meals with family and friends brings people together." The importance of a homely ambiance is reflected in a flavourful menu and the bakery floor, with its friendly staff, great lighting and lots of seating. 

Pilar recounts how her grandmother Benita, even though she faced some hardship in her life, never failed to recognise the positives. "She appreciated everything until the end -  even things as small as a new tree being planted in town," Pilar said. Through Benita's love of cooking for her family, Pilar found the same joy, and decided to move to London from Gran Canaria to share her grandmother's warmth and traditions far removed from her previous, comfortable life as a teacher. "We decided to take the risk and leave our 'ideal' lives, and many of our family and friends did not understand why" said Pilar. "We wanted to look for adventure and better education for our kids". The courage of Pilar's family is shared in stories she heard growing up about the tough times they experienced during the Civil War, and her grandmother’s determination to live life to the fullest. The resilience of the people she loved gave her the courage to move to London and share their traditions and heritage in the form of food. 

Being resilient and overcoming adversity runs in the family. Pilar retold the story of Benita's grandfather, who served as a major in the Spanish military during the Civil War. "They were not allowed to bake bread with white flour." Pilar explained. "Although it was forbidden, he decided to continue to bake white bread in his own house to give hope to the people of the town in the midst of the conflict." Pilar carries this story of fortitude and the tenacious spirit of her family with her - and it is reflected in the success of her business. 'Benita Bakery' - named after the woman who inspired many with her affability and passion for food- warms the hearts (and stomachs) of its customers, bringing a special story to life with its wide selection of unique flavours and the intimate link between tradition and history.  


by Mia Honigstein