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Caribbean restaurant Coco B's launches in Willesden Green with celebrity guests

PUBLISHED: 18:54 19 July 2019 | UPDATED: 18:54 19 July 2019

Elliott Philp and Nakeba Buchanan, founders of Coco B's in Willesden. Picture: Nathalie Raffray

Elliott Philp and Nakeba Buchanan, founders of Coco B's in Willesden. Picture: Nathalie Raffray

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A couple's dream came true as their Caribbean restaurant launched in Willesden Green with some star-studded guests dropping in.

Writers, publishers, producers: Zadie Smith, her mum Yvonne, Carmen Harris, Margaret Busby OBE and Maureen Brian at the launch of Coco B's in Willesden. Picture: Nathalie RaffrayWriters, publishers, producers: Zadie Smith, her mum Yvonne, Carmen Harris, Margaret Busby OBE and Maureen Brian at the launch of Coco B's in Willesden. Picture: Nathalie Raffray

Elliott Phillip and Nakeba Buchanan have toiled for two years with no loan from the bank and plenty of objections from neighbours.

However on Thursday night they put all that behind them as they officially opened Coco B's in the High Road on the corner of Churchill Road.

Among the guests were writer Yvonne Bailey and her children - author Zadie Smith, comedian Ben "Doc Brown" Bailey Smith and musician Luke.

Margaret Busby OBE, the UK's first black female publisher and writer Carmen Harris (also mum of actress Naomie Harris) also attended.

Elliott Philp and Nakeba Buchanan, founders of Coco B's in Willesden. Picture: Nathalie RaffrayElliott Philp and Nakeba Buchanan, founders of Coco B's in Willesden. Picture: Nathalie Raffray

So many people piled in for their evening meal the restaurant's new online ordering system crashed so some guests had to wait for their food.

But it was a minor blip as the dishes when they finally arrived were delicious - fresh, flavoursome and reasonably priced.

Caribbean and Latin infused small plates, ribs and rotis, pastelles - a traditional Christmas polenta parcel, seafood, burgers, and a range of mouth-watering salads are some of the treats on the menu,

The two 38-year-olds were advised not to take out a bank loan so they saved money and "barely slept".

Nakeba, an actress born and raised in Dollis Hill, held down five cleaning jobs while teaching drama workshops and acting.

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Six months was spent sourcing spices and oils to create signature dishes and sauces.

She said: "It's been a good night and exciting but we've got a lot more work to do.

"We've had amazing support from the community that was lovely to see.

"I'm happy with the standard of food coming out of the kitchen. Our chefs and staff worked really hard."

Elliot built all the tables, lay down all the wooden flooring that was donated to him, created all the fixtures and fittings to create a charming atmosphere.

He said they bought the lease in July 2016 and found out two days later the site had asbestos which set them back four months.

They then received objections from neighbours who were "afraid [the restaurant] would attract drug dealers".

"Slowly slowly it all came together," he said.

"I'm very proud, we've succeeded. We set out to do something and we completed it. I'm proud of my Mrs, she has a very good mind, she's very strong."

Kitchen closes 10pm.

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