Today was the last day A.J. Goddard’s Pie & Mash shop opened its doors to the public. Customers had vowed to give Goddard’s a proper send-off and what a send-off it was! As Simon had predicted, the queue was hanging out the door for most of the day (and yesterday) with whole families – babies, teenage kids, parents, grand-parents and dogs – coming to eat at Goddard’s for the last time. People had travelled from Gravesend, Charlton, Catford and many other places just to be here today. Simon was assisted by Karen and other family members and friends, trying to keep up with the constant flow of large orders. People waited patiently, taking photographs, sharing memories and expressing sadness and disbelief that Goddard’s is closing. Customers ordered the lot: pie, mash, peas and liquor (or gravy), some added chilli vinegar, a cup of tea, followed by pudding and more tea. Some young lads asked for 3 or 4 pies on their plate, and one lady ordered just one pie and gravy, then helped out in the kitchen, chatted to customers before ordering another pie and gravy. The atmosphere was a mix of sadness, anger, celebration and hope – sadness and anger to see this place go but a celebration of memories, good times and long-standing friendships. And hope that Simon will open another Pie & Mash shop in Sidcup. It seems there is a good chance he will.
As I was waiting in the queue to place my order, I spoke to many people. Almost everybody who was there has been coming to Goddard’s for more than 30 years, some for more than 50. They remember their parents taking them here when they were children and they have been coming here ever since. They would never go to another pie & mash shop as Goddard’s in Deptford makes the best pies. Some remember eating their first pie and then taking their children to Goddard’s for the first time. Many don’t even live in Deptford but have been coming to Goddard’s once a month to eat their favourite pie. One lady told me that once Goddard’s is closed, she does not have a reason to come to Deptford so saying good-bye to Goddard’s today was saying good-bye to Deptford.
Simon and Karen were incredibly busy. Simon was at the back making the food and Karen was serving customers. They were assisted by a team of helpers as customers kept pouring in. Despite being worked off their feet, there was always time for a smile and a quick chat, and Simon was constantly ‘interrupted’ by customers wanting to say good-bye and wish him luck. As I was waiting for my pie, Clive, the business owner came in. There were cheers, people taking photos, chatting and shaking hands with him on the way out. It felt like a celebrity had arrived. I asked him how he felt and he said: “It’s the end of an era. It’s as simple as that.”
Clive and Karen
There was a constant coming and going and although many different people came to sit next to me the conversation was always the same. Eyes were filling up when narrating the memories and family traditions of coming to Goddard’s (and Deptford) and how much this place means to them. In the end I met Maria and her 16-year old boys Andrew and Andre, who have been coming here ever since they were little. Finally, Maria tells me: ” I have been coming here for 55 years, since the day I was born. Today is a very sad day.” I left with a heavy heart but glad to have witnessed such a coming together of people with a passion for Goddard’s pie and mash.
If you’re interested in reading the whole story about Goddard’s, click on the link below: