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Elena Salvoni says she was forced to retire

30 July 2010

Soho maitre d' Elena Salvoni, who is 90 years old, has claimed she has been forced to retire after more than seven decades of hospitality service.

Salvoni, who has worked at Elena's L'Etoile restaurant on Charlotte Street, Soho, for 20 years, said she was encouraged out of work by Corus Hotels, a Hertfordshire-based group that owns 10 hotels in Britain as well as two in Malaysia.

As the Government announced plans to scrap the default retirement age, the lady dubbed the "Queen of Soho" expressed confusion over the decision to for her to quit.

"They said that at my age they can't get insurance for me. But this is all double-Dutch to me." she told the Independent. "They've got my name up on the front of the restaurant. Doesn't that mean anything?"

Andrew Hollett, a Corus hotel manager, said in a statement: "When Elena reached her 90th birthday we felt it was an appropriate time to retire. Our doors are always open to Elena and we have an arrangement with her to facilitate visits.

"This arrangement is confidential and it would not be appropriate for us to give details."

Born to Italian parents in London, Salvoni left school at 14 and trained as a seamstress before taking a job at Café Bleu in Old Compton Street. She worked at a number of Soho's prestigious establishments before joining L'Etoile, as it was then called, in 1992.

Salvoni won a Manager of the Year Catey in 1996 and, in 2005, was awarded an MBE.

Handling a retirement dismissal >>

How to prepare for the abolition of the default retirement age >>

Hospitality workers face shorter lifespan after retirement >>

By Janie Stamford

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