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Story Publication logo December 23, 2021

Holidays Away From Home. At Romanian Store in UK, Romanians Long for Country They Left.


Journalist Elena Stancu's project is intended as a portrait of the Romanian diaspora in the UK.

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Multiple Authors

This story was originally written in Romanian, and is posted on the Libertatea website. To read it, click here.

The beginning of December did not bring the holiday spirit to many Romanian immigrants living in Dunstable, the town with one of the largest Romanian communities in the United Kingdom, 2.500 km from their home. The Romanians here did not have time to celebrate the 1st of December — their national day —  because it didn’t fall on a weekend, but the British pastors at an Evangelical church organised a party for the occasion. 

Romanian businessman Jan Domnișor opened the first Romanian store in Dunstable in 2013, a year after moving into town, because he had nowhere to buy Romanian food. Its first annual turnover was 300.000 pounds, which became 780.000 eight years later. The number of Romanians in the community has grown, as has consumption. 

The Romanian store Leveloff is the biggest of its kind in Dunstable, where other similar ones have opened since. It has eight employees and a bakery lab in the basement. Each day, 200 people shop at the store, and on weekends clients come from as far as 25 miles away. 

Most shoppers are Romanian, but the shelves are also stocked with Hungarian, Polish, and Turkish products. In winter, the best-selling products are the cold cuts (ham, fatback, sausage, stuffed pig stomach), heavy cream, canned peas and pickled cucumbers for Russian salad, cozonaci, and pickled cabbage. Last year, before Christmas, Jan stocked one and a half tons of pickled cabbage, which ran out, so this year he wanted to get two tons. 

On the 1st of December, Steven Neal, a pastor at the English Evangelical Church in Dunstable (Christ Church), came to Leveloff to pick up the 10 cozonaci weighing 1,2 kilos each, which he had ordered a few days earlier. 

The British pastors hold a Romanian National Day celebration for the 12 Romanian families attending their Evangelical church. Steven also ordered sarmale from the Romanian store and bought carbonated drinks and snacks. 


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