A rolling selection
of comments, nostalgia, bon mots, reviews and heartbreak from
classic cafe lovers the length and breadth of cyberspace...
'Genius... passionate, elegiac...'
Twentieth Century Society
'A cult web classic' Financial Times
'Everything a cafe connoisseur could want... poignant... melancholy'
'Wonderfully evocative...' The Independent
'Sumptuous... beautiful... breathtaking... cinematic' R.I.B.A
'Too good to be true' Space
'A total must' LBC/News Direct
'Marvellous... death to Starbucks' Bob Stanley (Saint Etienne)
'The undisputed caff polymath... lyrical... vibrant' FX Magazine
'A great resource' New Economics Foundation
'Not just a set of recommendations... it's a whole aesthetic!'
of the best kind... sumptuous... beautiful... breathtaking...
well-judged... deeply evocative... crisp... vibrant, loving...
Cinematic... a tribute of a quality the humble caff deserves...
buy a copy and head for your local to enjoy it.'
Royal Institute of British Architects
passionate, elegiac, surprising, and beautifully illustrated...
a wonderful book... with a well-researched argument to make us
look again at the familiar and to revel in quotidian detail...
Through detail also comes something of the optimism, dynamism
but also distinctly English pragmatism of many post-war cafes
firmly positioned in the vanguard of Festival culture...'
20th Century Society/Oxford University Press
'it's the drab grot of cafes
that Maddox loves - the "smudged walls" and "scurvy
curtains", the melancholy and Pinter-esque ambience. Phil
Nicholls's photographs, which accompany Maddox's words, capture
exactly that... the easy-wipe surfaces, the Pyrex vinegar container,
the squeezy bottles of ketchup and brown sauce, the Formica tabletop,
faux-leather banquettes and gaudy tiles... Classic Cafes is motivated
by nostalgia for an era in which identikit coffee joints hadn't
"brutally Starbuck-ed" our high streets... '
Sooke, Daily Telegraph
'Architecture books are usually
either glossy, shallow, picture-book porn, or indigestibly laden
with cultural theory architectspeak. Some, though, get it just
right... If we are allowed one glossy picturebook, let it be
Classic Cafés, by Adrian Maddox... Once the Empire was
supported on the joy of crouching over a bacon butty and a piping
hot cuppa on sticky Formica, huddled out of the rain behind steamed-up
windows... Come revel in a fading world where drabness is good
and the bubble and squeak is even better.'
The Times (Christmas books choice)
sees creeping homogeneity as a quiet tragedy. He has produced
a thinking person's coffee-table book, packed with atmospheric
photographs... Maddox makes the case for seeing the cafes of
the 1950s and 1960s as salons for a new, de-industrialised, post-imperial
Britain... as hallowed zones in which the dynamics and cross-currents
of city life could be tapped into.'
New Statesman & 3AM
'historical background... illuminating
period quotes... a useful gazetteer... terrific archive... exquisite
photos... an invaluable document... Maddox's enthusiasm will
inspire us to regard [cafes] afresh... make a wholeheartedly
anti-corporate stand for these individualistic architectural
Drennan & Annabella Pollen, Insight Brighton Guide
is a great book... marvellous and thoughtful... written with
much enthusiasm, love and knowledge for the subject: a rare combination...
[It] looks magnificent... and the writing really gets the job
author of 'Destroy All Monsters'
alternately to tears of nostalgia and indignant rage... a paean
to the passing of proper English Cafes in all their Formica-clad,
steamed up, slop-serving gorgeousness. Illustrated with breathtaking
black and white photographs and written with crisp wit and full
rigour... Adrian Maddox has created something of simple beauty
and real social importance. If we could say that we'd die happy.'
'As much about the British condition
as cafes, Classic Cafes takes a look at the phenomenon of the
British coffee bar, and its impact on the country's social scene.
From the rise and decline of UK cafe society to the influence
of pub culture and fast food, the book takes us through the decades
with a tantalising selection of images and artwork from the past
and present. The cafe's associations with the world of music
is also explored, with interesting tit bits on mods and beatniks
and their place in the coffee bars of old. Very rock and roll
and very readable, Adrian Maddox's perky prose makes this a book
for coffee lovers and culture vultures alike.'
A wonderful, enthusiastically
compiled celebration of that great institution, the proper caff,
in all its faded glory. (*****)
looks fantastic... fascinating'
Thank you for a great
website. I've been totally absorbed for hours... Wonderful, sentimental
and very, very special!
Your website is one
of the most beautiful I have come across on the net: full of
care, quirky without being wacky, elegant and touching. It is
an excellent way of understanding the pleasures of Psychogeography,
and really brings out a sense of the atmosphere that these places
have. I can almost smell the Formica tabletops through the monitor.
You are such a hero!
... Big time charming... I do hope there's still hope for the
poor kids being brought up by Ronald McF*cking Donald.
JOHAN P / HENRIK A
Such passion, beauty
and dedication... We are definitely going to bring our friends
and invade your top-ten caffs this summer! Thanks for a lovely
What a great website! Love everything about it. Can't wait to
check out those places next time I'm in London.
If you've never visited before then we can tell you Classic Cafes
celebrates, champions and attempts to protect and preserve the
'Italian-styled Formica cafe/coffee bars' that remain in the
capital... proprietor, Adrian Maddox, is one of the most dedicated
and passionate people we've ever encountered (for the full story
check out his book).
What a great web site! Hours
of pleasant nostalgia. In 1953 I used to frequent the Pam Pam
coffee house. It was at the junction of Hanover St W1 and Hanover
Square and was memorable in that it was the first cafes that
I heard jazz played - not on a juke box but from the owner's
Dansette - 78's of Oscar Peterson were his favorite. Us
arty students from the then Regent Street Poly used to hang out
there after classes. There was a small upstairs section and they
served the very novel 'open sandwiches from Norway' - a slice
of rye bread with a piece of lettuce and a hard boiled egg. Talk
about exotic! Congratulations and keep up the crusade.
The website just gets better and better - the whole sweep of
it is hugely impressive...
Many thanks for the
It is rare that we
find a site that entertains us more than our own...
and even rarer to find one which reduces us alternately to tears
of nostalgia and indignant rage. Adrian Maddox has built this
beautiful site as a clear labour of love. It is a paean to the
passing of proper English Cafes in all their Formica-clad, steamed
up, slop-serving gorgeousness. Illustrated with breathtaking
black and white photographs and written with crisp wit and full
rigour, we defy you not to spend an hour wandering around the
site and the rest of your life seeking out the Cafes. Adrian
Maddox has created something of simple beauty and real social
importance. If we could say that we'd die happy.
all-time favourite website.
Wonderful site - great
tone, beautiful pictures, an amazing resource.
to let you know that yesterday I travelled from Bristol to 'do'
the full cafe tour. Had a fantastic time... Although Pellicci's
and the New Piccadilly were amazing, in some ways Scotti's was
my favourite, I had a cup of tea and a chat (with the owner's
son?) in there and couldn't believe how untouched by the pasing
years it was, brilliant! We discussed Starbucks etc and he was
saying he couldn't believe they got away with charging 75p for
a cup of tea - I had to tell him they charge a lot more than
that, which he couldn't believe! Anyway thanks for providing
the tour info, it makes for a great day, I think the best part
was probably speaking to the owners in the three cafes I lingered
in (Pellicci's, Scotti's and the New Piccadilly) - Lorenzo described
me as a 'pilgrim'!
Discovered your site
a few months ago and I've been fascinated by it ever since. Last
weekend I came down to the smoke for a few days so I decided
to investigate a couple of your recommendations. The New Piccadilly
was wonderful with its swirly-patterned yellow Formica table
tops and transparent cups and saucers. And as for Pellicci's!
I originally thought your "See Pellicci's And Die"
tag was a bit over-the-top but you're right; it's like going
to heaven! Wonderful decor, great atmosphere and the best staff
of any eating establishment anywhere in the UK. Nevio jnr noticed
my Accy Stanley footy shirt (I was on my way to the match at
Dagenham) and immediately fell into conversation with me. On
my was out I was thanking the ever-courteous Nevio senior, and
telling him how I found out about his cafe from your site, when
Nevio jnr plonked a carefully wrapped parcel in my hands and
said: "That's some bread pudding for you, so you don't go
hungry at half-time!" Can you imagine that happening in
Magnificent... a really
beautiful piece of work.
once in a while you find a site that truly makes you feel happy;
unpretentious, enthusiastic, serious, and informative
Love the site and am definitely going to buy the book. Funny,
informative and sentimental without being saccharine
Great work you are
Your site is the most
wonderful and fascinating thing I have recently seen. The site
is a witty and invaluable resource...
Bought the book after reading an article in Time Out last month,
I just wanted to say how fantastic it, and the website, are.
I'm planning a visit to London to undertake a mini tour of some
of the cafes listed...
fascinated by your website... really uplifting
I love your site and
I can smell kitchen grease just thinking about it
Sad beyond words to learn of the demise or impending closure
of more cafés, especially the New Piccadilly. At least
you have the satisfaction of having recorded their existence
in your unique book which surely deserves an award for so attractively
and comprehensively combining form with content.
My exposure to classic
cafes really took off when I moved to London in late 1993...
we lived in Finchley, and I counted 32 eating places on my 10
minute walk to Finchley Central tube. These included a genuine
classic, Roberto's in Long Lane N3 - small, crowded, steamy,
son cooking and mother waitressing and a near classic, the Welcome
Cafe in Ballards Lane N3. The Welcome Café was then run
by a comedy Italian family who had ferocious arguments, usually
led by the fiery teenage daughter, and plates and cutlery would
fly around the kitchen... I got off the Northern Line at Tottenham
Court Road, and walked the short distance to High Holborn passing,
in no particular order, the Tea Rooms in Museum Street, Zita,
another excellent one in New Oxford Street whose names escapes
me, Berni, and Chez Monique. Every day I would stop at one or
the other, read my paper, and think about the dull day ahead...
Now I work in Kensington and have the delights of Frank's (run
by a splendidly bad-tempered, short, stocky, Roman-nosed father
and son firm) and the Pembroke Café within a short walk.
Frank's is a visual joy but not I think a place to sit in for
any length of time, unlike the Pembroke where the binmen and
builders mingle with the taxmen and DIY shop staff.
Just a quick note to say how impressed I am with your site. Keep
up the good work
What a great website!
site. Truly amazing. I have spent hours reading and printing
most of the info and my next project will be to arm myself with
a list of caffs that I can investigate over the next few months!
Thank you for providing me with so much pleasure. Will keep returning
to the site for more updates.
A very good site indeed...
I am very familiar with many of the items [as] my father was
a carpenter who did shop fitting from time to time. The family
home was festooned with stuff. We used to joke that it would
all come back into fashion one day. Our bathroom had exactly
the same three colours you use on your photo montage background:
mauve, blue and grey. I am not sure if it was Formica. Our Dad
was always on about something called Warerite. Our bathroom looked
like a chip shop. Three different Formica panels half way up
the wall, separated by a black PVC strip. I can remember the
smell of Evostick as all this was being laid up. We had a Formica
covered table as well as a formal dining table and he even used
a grey wood finish Formica for the bedroom cupboards. Family
holidays, in places like Littlehampton, meant you always ate
out in places like those on your site. There was nothing else
available within a family budget... I hope the closure trend
is reversed. I have passed web details on to friends and colleagues
and they also love the site.
What a gorgeous site. And what a necessary labour of love to
catalogue it all before it goes. I was down in East Dulwich only
the other weekend, mourning the substitution of an underwhelming
new orange plastic sign for the Café Ideal (original frontage
of chrome letters mounted on pistachio green Formica.) Where
are they now: the chrome and crimson leather of the Three Sons
on Lavender Hill?; Forest Hill's Station Café, with its
rudimentary wooden booths, and gaggle of late 70s punks hunching
over the Gottlieb pintable or dropping 5ps in the Rock-Ola for
another dose of the Buzzcocks or The Clash?; the Herne Hill Restaurant
run by an unlikely gay couple - Little Jerry (short, brash, foulmouthed,
beloved of pensioners, fond of a silver identity bracelet) and
Big Jerry (large, muscular, bashful, former policeman)?; The
Sorrento in West Norwood, a handy cherub's throw from the pleasingly
gloomy necropolis of Norwood cemetery... How soon before this
prelapsarian Eden is submerged entirely beneath a wave of branded
a terrific site. I came across it quite by accident at work.
It's now doing the rounds with my colleagues, who are also thoroughly
enjoing it... There's a greasy cafe in my neighbourhood of W10/11,
a tiny one right alongside The Gate Cinema, Notting Hill Gate.
I used to see Van Morrison having his breakfast in there. The
owner of the cafe, an elderly Italian gent, whose musical interests
only stretched as far as Sinatra and Lanza was stunned when I
told him that his patron was one of the most respected singers
in rock music. He suddenly realized why this doer, monosyllabic,
tubby and unattractive middle-aged man was always accompanied
by stunning women...
I'm a great fan of
your site which I find manages to entertain and depress me in
equal measures. I'm sorry to report that you can add John's in
Chalk Farm Road to the list of recent closures. Inside the furniture
is scattered around as if the owners had to leave in a hurry
after a rude early-hours visit from the coffee chain gestapo.
To complete this miserable picture, the word "closed"
with a backwards S is daubed in white paint on the front window.
Please keep up the good work, while there are still some cafes
I am a huge fan of
the Classic Cafes website and your book is top of my Christmas
wish list! I have a suggestion that you might consider adding
to the site... C Notarianni & Sons on Battersea High Street
- a long-standing Italian cafe that retains a fair deal of its
1950s atmosphere and charm.
your web page! It is marvellous!! I love Clasic Cafes and I have
recently moved to London so it has been wonderful to discover
your site. You should include information about classic cafes
at Buenos Aires. The local government has launched an initiative
to attract people to them and not let them die and there are
some incredible ones!
Hi there - love the
site: a real inspiration... check out L Rodi, 16 Blackhorse Lane
(v near Blackhorse Road tube). It's a classic down-to-earth place
(fry-ups and trad lunches, open Mon-Fri until 4pm), but with
a good old-fashioned sign, green thirties-looking panelling and
mirror surrounds inside. Nice red formica tables, too. Also,
if you continue through the main caff, there's an amazing tiled
dining room behind. Check out the framed collage of B/W pics
of the cafe (looking much the same) in bygone times...
Your site is great.
I was amazed to find the sadly missed Brunest in there as well,
which had the best and most unreal staff of any café ever:
people from the 50s to go with the amazing decor and fried eggs
in a display cabinet...
Thank you for such
a cool site, it has been a dream of mine since I was a boy to
own what I call a "true cafe" in or around London.
I have only recently had the money and time to really investigate
and follow my dream of acquiring such an establishment and was
beginning to lose heart as the only cafes I could find didn't
even meet my basic of requirements (must be in 50-60's classic
cafe style) Your site has inspired me to keep searching...
Just like to say ...what
a fantastic site, I see it as an important part of our culture
as much as historical Castles and houses, I recently visited
the York Gate Cafe in Broadstairs... how could anyone be so destructive
as to rip out such an interior? Anyway it made my heart sink.
I remember spending many a wet afternoon sitting at the Green
Vitrolite window table watching the world go by.
Thanks for the great
site. My mates and I often talked about something like this but
why when you've done it better than we imagined.
Love the site to distraction.
enjoyable. Put me down for a copy of the book.
Thanks for your superb
review of the Tea Rooms, Museum Street. I fear for the place,
since Gino, Rene's husband, died a couple of years ago. I live
in Croydon, where one finds St. George's Walk (circa 1965); at
least half of it is scheduled for demolition and replacement
by a shiny new precinct. In 1997 there were at least 2 original-style
cafes there, plus another in George St. (eastern section, southern
side.) All have been modernised except one in St. George's Walk
(eastern section). It must have been expensively done originally,
complete with rotating seats at the bar.
I like your site because
I like the type of establishment you review, though to be honest
it's the food I rate higher than the decor. But excellence in
both seem to go together. Ah, the apple sultana roll in the Muratori!
The chips in Harris's CafeRest! The steak pudding in George's
Cafe, York Way, Kings Cross...
Have just returned
from Pellicci's, at your recommendation - steak-and-kidney pud,
mash and mushy peas, followed by golden-syrup sponge, washed
down with tea, and accompanied by the irresistible Italian charms
of Nevio Sr and Jr. A perfect afternoon! thank you! My friends
and I plan to do the No 8-bus caff tour very soon, and look forward
to the publication of your book!
Love the classic cafe
site! One cracker to check out is the wonderful University cafe
in Byres Road, Glasgow. All vitriolite and wonderful deco stained
What an amazing website.
It incredible what info you can find on the net
Great site, its reassuring
to see that people care this much about preservation of these
Just like to thank
you for setting up this website. I have used it help me with
my investagation into 60s cafes for an art project.
Keep up the good work.
A great site... I'm sad to say that The Mug of Tea cafe on Cambridge
Heath Rd looks to be dead. Its been closed for quite a while
now, the lettering started to drop and became the very Bill Drummond
'Mu of Tea' for a while. Now being renovated and doubtless ruined.
Such a sad thing to pass a dead cafe. One of my friends moved
into a dead pub once which had been granted residential status
- I didn't speak to him again. I heard an even worse tale that
someone I know has bought the Pie & Mash on Well St Market
in Hackney and is turning it into a studio/ery. "They are
keeping the front as it was originally" I was told. I might
I've just been looking
at your website; wonderful idea. Cafe's were and are a traditional
part of London and some of the few places where you can get a
meal without being ripped off! It might be worth mentioning my
mum and dad's cafe under your 'Lost Cafes' section. Mum and dad
ran 'George's Cafe' in Columbia Road, Bethnal Green from 1964
- 1995. It was very popular and well known because of the famous
flower market on Sundays. It had the formica tables and counter
and served homemade apple pie and steak pies etc. Even today,
the old regulars still miss the cafe. It was tragically turned
into a posh restaurant!
Love the website...
perhaps you could take a look at the two Castle cafe's 100 metres
apart in EC2. The one on Paul Street is the killer: stool seating
great sandwiches, fine old school shelf stacking and a very warm
& friendly Italian family behind the counter. The one on
Tabernacle St is lacking a little in atmosphere. Hated to see
your story on the death of the Regent Milk Bar - the perfect
revival spot after trawling through Bell Street market. Felt
the same sinking feeling on finding the guts - wooden booths,
back lit false ceiling and orange pendant lights - had been ripped
out of Brunchies on Great Portland Street. No more £2.95
all day breakfasts.
Why has it taken me
until now to discover this site? It is superb. My next holiday
destination has now been decided.
Like all the others,
I want to congratulate you on your fantastic site. Finding this
comes just days after being introduced to the vitrolite nirvana
of the Regent Milk Bar on Edgware Road. You've done what I've
wanted to do for some years now (but which like so many other
things became a back-burner project). And you've done it so spectacularly
well, I'm humbled. Whilst living in Walthamstow 8 years ago,
and so familiar with Ferrari's, Roma, La Paga, and a fantastic
vitrolite milkbar on the High Street that was badly modernised
when I was living there, it was apparent that these fantastic
fronts and interiors were now living a precarious existence and
should be documented before they disappear (sad to hear about
the Roma, and Alfredo's). You've created a superb and much needed
resource for a massively undervalued area of post war popular
culture and experience. Thank you!
Classic Cafes is marvellous...
death to Starbucks
Just thought I'd drop
a line to say you have created a brilliant and very worthwile
website. Very funny and very well designed.
I have just been to
your fantastic website on lost cafes... Thanks for such a fantastic
site. It's great to know that there are other people out there
who appreciate such valuable heritage. I'm from Dublin originally
and the last five years of economic boom have seen lots of fantastic
50's and 60's caffs disappear which is very gutting. Upsets me
every time I go home! I have quite a passion for them and I am
always on the lookout for little gems, so your site saved me
a lot of time and footwork!
Great site! I particularly
love all the old seaside cafes having gone to school and art
school on the north norfolk coast - I am a photographer who loves
interiors especially ones with a history and intimate nature
that is untouched by the never ending stylising of some ';groovy'
interior designer. I feel inspired to seek some out to photograph
A true delight this
site, dedicated as it is to that golden age of London cafe culture,
the 1950s and 60s. Forget the greasy spoon culture, and forget
the cultures on the greasy spoons, this is a loving paean to
the pastel formica clad and melaware-equipped espresso shops
and working men's cafes of the days before burgers, kebabs and
fried chicken took over our high streets. The site looks great,
with shots of some of London's finest, include our personal favourite,
Pellici's in Bethnal Green. But it's far more than a ery piece,
because they're all still open for business. One for the aesthete
and the foodie. Classy ways to eat on the cheap. Rating : 5/5
Both the content &
design of your site are superb. I can't find any mention of the
Lorelei on Bateman St, Soho. Apologies if I've missed it. This
coffee shop / pizzeria looks untouched since about 1958 - it
even has outside toilets. A good formica & leatherette pub
is the Wheatsheaf on Stoney St (near Borough Market) - especially
the public bar on the left hand side. May have changed since
I was last there - the whole area is threatened.
OTTO VON STROHEIM
... meant to email
you to say how much I love your site very cool and good work
M. LYNCH (Psychogeography.co.uk)
Website of the Month...When Trocchi boasted to Greil Marcus
that Debord had had an eye for the lost histories and hidden
spaces of a city, he would not have anticipated the coming of
these greasy spoon aesthetes with a whole new spin on café
intellectualism. Classic Cafes is neither a heritage industry
route march nor trainspotter's paradise, but a thoroughgoing
examination of those back street spaces of London that are rapidly
caving in to pressure from Starbucks and Prêt. Not averse
to putting their money where their mouth is and trying the food,
Classic Cafes is about more, much more. Little wonder that Iain
Sinclair is featured on their site, for he too has featured a
multitude of Classic Cafe-esque eateries in a number of
his works. Also worth a look is their bibliographic survey of
writings on the café and café society... certainly
worth its own place in the Michelin Guide.
Just surfed in here
from the links page on a Chris Morris site; was intrigued to
see whether you knew about the closure of the lovely place in
Wells St and you certainly do! I was gutted when i saw it shut
down as it was a short walk from my workplace and did a mean
focaccia chicken sandwich - nice people too. Then I ended up
in M&S. Oh well. Congrats on the site and make sure you keep
it going as it's a unique historical archive.
I love this website
almost too much. Since moving back to London a few months ago,
I have mourned the loss of its character and individual charm
to the ruinous, tsunami-like tide of chain coffee bars, restaurants
and shops aimed at the capital's burgeoning masses of Nathan
Barleys and wannabe It-girls. For me, the kind of establishment
your website quite rightly glorifies is the essence of London
and if more are saved as a result, then that's something to be
thankful for. There were some good places in the Welsh Valleys
and in the old Birmingham Bull Ring, too, but the genre as a
whole is an endangered species. This website is as much something
to treasure as the cafes themselves. Nice one.
Both the content &
design of your site are superb. I can't find any mention of the
Lorelei on Bateman St, Soho... This coffee shop / pizzeria looks
untouched since about 1958 - it even has outside toilets. A good
formica & leatherette pub is the Wheatsheaf on Stoney St
(near Borough Market) - especially the public bar on the left
hand side. May have changed since I was last there - the whole
area is threatened. One of the best pub interiors in north London
is the Marquess Tavern in Canonbury St , N1 (an Edwardian Youngs
pub, with some 30s-looking bits, as yet unmodernised) - this
is a lovely pub, always heartbreakingly deserted, even on Sunday
Have you ever encountered the 'Grosvenor' in Camberwell? I drive
past it every week on a Tuesday at about 8pm, yet I have never
seen a single person patronising this establishment. Not one.
As far as I can see from my driver's view on the other side of
the road, it appears to be a 60's steakhouse which I can well
imagine would have been rammed every night at some stage, but
I am curious how it stays open at the moment given the apparent
- and absolute - lack of trade.
Thanks for the excellent
site. A great resource is a book "Lime, Lemon and Sarsaparilla"
by Colin Hughes (now sadly out of print) which details the history
of the Italian Cafe based community in Wales. This community
is closely related to the London one - the London community's
origins are largely from Bedonia and Borgotaro (in the valley
of Val Taro) about 20 miles from Bardi, where most of the Welsh
Italians are from. The book has a great map of the Italian cafes
in Wales. As in London, many cafes are falling by the wayside
- my dad had the "Express Cafe" at 68 Taff St., Pontypridd,
now an amusement arcade. However. there are still at least 18
Italian cafes in Pontypridd/Rhondda - which would be a reasonable
twelve mile driving tour - or better still , a good trip on the
railway up the valley from Cardiff. Again, a great site...
Thanks so much for
your fabulous efforts - [the] site consistently fills me with
joy. Love it, love it, love it.
Thank you for a moving,
nostalgic and beautiful site. I am a big fan of English greasy
spoons... That sense of interior, mood, architecture and atmosphere.
I have lived in South London for 16 years and have fond memories
of solitary afternoons in cafes in East Dulwich, Peckham and
- over the last 12 years - Brixton, where I now live. You may
be interested to know that the Terminus in Brixton is no-more
having succumbed to the blandification and gentrification going
on here now. I feel very sad that so many of these gorgeous cafes
have gone for good. Gone the way of so much of old London. The
future? Imagine a Patrick Cox loafer stamping on a human face
Thanks for giving the
world such a cool site! I thought I was mad for liking them,
but I can't help myself, and now there is a site for my obsession!
I live in Brum, and there's still some cool cafes to be found.
I live literally around the corner from 'Michael's Cafe' - with
wooden panelling up to the middle of the walls, and formica tables...
Dudley and Wolverhampton have splendid old cafes too. I have
actually been timewarped in one of them. the radio started playing
'Keep on Running' and I was transported back in time. The Isle
of Wight is a fantastic place for old cafes. In fact, the entire
island hasn't changed much for the past 30-odd years. even the
bus stop signs are vintage! I used to go to one particular cafe
all the time because it has such fantastic wooden banquette seating.
I went there with my friends when the Mod rally was on - and
yet again, there was a time slip... There was an ace 'spoon'
in Brum city centre, complete with a bloke behind the counter
with a curly moustache but they got closed down as they used
to bring binbags through the eating area.
Your site is, like
the best cafes, a true gem. Really thrilled to find it. Quality
cafes are a rare breed in Devon - tea rooms and cider bars are
more the cultural heritage here - but I feel I should give a
mention to Macari's in Torquay, a favoured haunt from my youth.
Situated on the harbour, the friendly Italian family have been
serving grockles and locals alike for forty years, and besides
the fantastic 50s decor (Alpine murals and the like) and odd
pricing policy (nothing costs £1.03 these days!), it also
boasts the best coffee in South Devon. Sadly, I do know that
it has recently been refitted, and as yet I haven't had the heart
to go back and see what they've done. Still, I have faith in
the family that runs the place, so I don't envisage anything
too horrific. We'll see. Other recommended spots around Devon
include Expresso of Cornwall Street, Plymouth (decor's a bit
patchy, though) and Annie's of Market Street, Torquay (very cheap
Greek-run greasy spoon not changed since the 60s.) However, if
moribund seaside dreariness - soggy chips, tomato-shaped ketchup
bottles, undrinkable tea etc. - s your thing, a trip to Teignmouth
or Dawlish wouldn't go amiss. Exeter used to have some nice joints,
but the herbal tea and mochachocaccinolatte brigade killed them
off years ago. Long may your fine website continue.
a thousand blessings
upon your sublime site... I just wanted to say thank you for
your great website. I first went to the Market Cafe in Spitalfields
[RIP] in 1966 with my greengrocer grandfather who bought fruit
and veg in the market. I totally agree with you that Spitalfields
is being destroyed by soulless fashion dotcons and the trash
boutiques full of tat where they justify their existence. Sadly
I think it's too late stop the rot.
I only discovered your
site today, and I just wanted to say how fantastic it is. It's
really given me an appetite for venturing out beyond my local
area and discovering new (or new-old) eateries.
Classic Cafes has never
So there ARE some other
good websites out there...Classic Cafes is so different
and entertaining that it's bound to stimulate some or all of
our users - at onetouchfootball.com
- and we'd like to include it in our directory of interesting
Please do not waste
your talent as a travel writer - kindly turn Classic Cafes into
a book forthwith. I'm waiting to buy the first copy.
Hi I just clicked on
your site from a link on the Pulp homepage. I think it's great
& v useful - lots to check out!! Not sure if you would be
interested but I have a site called 'Ancient Monuments Society'
We deal with buildings of all ages and all types.
Wonderful site! Found
it from the link on the '20th Century Society' site. Thank you.
I love your site...I'll
never look at these cafes in the same way again. Funnily enough,
just last week I was in Kensington High Street and went back
to an italian 'eaterie' that was EXACTLY as it was twenty five
years ago when I lived nearby...UNBELIEVABLE how little it had
changed...I had canneloni and it tasted EXACTLY the same...even
the plastic coated place mats were the same...it's called Scoff's
Eating house and it's in an arcade of shops immediately past
the Odeon...For your books section: the WONDERFUL 'New London Spy' from 1966 (30s.net)...one of the best
guide books ever written about London...edited by Hunter Davies...you'd
also love 'London
on £1 a day' (1965)
by Betty James (21/-). Len Deighton also wrote a very good guide
book to London called the 'London Dossier'
(1967)...they were all written for Londoners as opposed to tourists.
I was just in New York City where I have been going all my life
and that's a place that has REALLY been ravaged of it's wonderful
old characterful eating holes...really sad because for a long
time it seemed to hang onto them much more than London...now
they have three Starbucks in one short street! Moving on...there's
a cafe that is featured in 'Poor Cow' (1967) on Fulham Road at
it's junction with North End Rd. (on the corner of Pulton Place,SW6).
Did you ever see 'Morgan (A Suitable Case For Treatment)' (1966)?
Well, the lead David Warner's mum (played by Irene Handle) runs
a cafe...I think it's in W10...but have been unable to work out
exactly where it is or was...I think the whole st. might have
been pulled down. Also you refer to the cafe in 'Bedazzled'...any
idea where that was shot...I'm sure it's out in the suburbs (in
Herts)...Elstree?...anyway it's a very good place for cafes/50's
& 60's style...The place where they go for ice-creams in
'Bedazzled' (Frobisher & Gleason) is in a cul-de-sac off
Abbey Road N.W.8...surprised you don't mention The Stockpot...they
messed up the one off Haymarket but the one on James St. W.1.
is very authentic and still serves things like apple crumble
and custard and treacle sponge and custard...
I'm mailing from Japan.
I love London & cafe, so your site is wonderful for me
L. EDELSTEIN (San Francisco)
Hi - love the Classic
Cafes site. I was looking for a decent breakfast in London and
came across Pellicci's - found myself in a really cool place...I
had a great meal, and being a bit of a Kray enthusiast I was
near ecstatic to hear that it was a regular haunt of theirs.
(I was told that the Reggie Kray funeral procession stopped for
20 seconds in front of the cafe.) I thought I'd weigh in with
a chance to crow about the fun and serendipitous time I'd had.
Lovely website. I don't
know if you know it or if it's already on the site, but there
is a milk bar in Tunbridge Wells which is outstanding. Worth
a look if you're ever in the area. Cheers
Good luck, and thanks
again for a great website.
Love the site's detailed
reviews - fascinating!
Your web-site just
gets better and better - fantastic. Went to Broadstairs for the
first time this weekend and I must concur with all you say about
the place - time has stood still and it's all the better for
it. I am stunned at the quality of the design and research of
the site and the sheer dedication you must have. When I
moved to London 14 years ago one of the things I absolutely loved
was the abundance of creaky old Gaggia machines in these relics
to a more innocent yet infinitely more glamorous age when sipping
an Italian coffee signified cool and sophistication.
can I say...great site
site...thank you, I'm gonna visit the bloody lot
for such an interesting site
site is really one of my all time favourites...glad to see it
growing and developing
site - keep up the good work
I have visited your
classic cafes site and have made it one of my favorites. It is
really superb and I shall from this day forward see these monuments
of magnificence in a new light. Indisputably the work of a major
What a great site!
We live in Hackney, N1 (no it isn't all Islington), and my 80
year old mum and I will be looking for and trying out the many
cafes on your site we didn't know existed. Our favourite local
cafe was Arthur's at the end of our road in Kingsland Road, E8
(I think, but Kingsland Rd changes postcode at various points).
It's not one of your historic cafes, but it was a great local
place. We'll keep our eyes open for other interesting places
on our travels, and thank you again for such a great website.
Best wishes and keep up the good work...the site's fantastic.
very good indeed. Great
design work - simple and effective...a site which looks nice,
is easy to navigate and loads quickly. Fantastico!
Website of the month
has got to be Classic Cafes, a site celebrating London' greatest
50s and 60s vintage cafes. A cornerstone of London culture, the
caff or 'greasy spoon' is an institution. This site name-checks
the best of the Italian-styled cafes with reviews, a ery and
a detailed history of their evolution. Drool over the Formica
and dig those clashing color schemes - then pay them a visit
and soak up the unmistakable ambience of a classic London caff!
S. VON SCHILLING
I really enjoyed the
site and have started to appreciate these forgotten treasures:
long may they live! Your site is a valuable resource and I will
Very nice too. Photos
and graphics work extremely well. Writing is erudite and entertaining. I
wish you well
Great site. Thanks
for the memories.
Love your site
Thank you so much for
highlighting and promoting the conservation of these wonderful
spaces. I'm an east-end based, fifties appreciator so was greatly
cheered I found your web site last week and paid a long overdue
visit to my localclassic cafe, Pellicci's, on Saturday. I haven't
had such a good time in ages. I found myself unable to quit beaming
from ear to ear from the moment I walked in, uncertain of how
I might fit in to such a tiny space let alone move my elbows
whilst eating, until the moment I left in a cloud of steam with
the kind wishes and merry screams of "Fank you very much
yang lady" from the truly phenomenal, highly amusing staff.
I have delved deep
into your site and 'tis indeed a treasure.
such a good, straightforward and accurate website
ClassicCafes - what
a wonderful website! As a Chez Monique regular (and occasional
Pellicci's and Pancras Road Railway Cafe visitor - plus many
others), it's so lovely to see there are others out there who
feel the same. These places are special. And
you are so right about plastic seating bolted to the
floor - a real mistake. Like Sally, I mourn the sad
loss of the original old REAL Roma Cafe. It was
heartbreaking to see it in its new incarnation. And I recently
found out that Nick's on Leyton High Road, E10 (not to
be confused with Mick's Family Diner on Francis Road in the same
neighbourhood!) has closed down. I don't know when this
happened - it was a while since I'd walked that way - but building
work for whatever is going to replace it is now well underway.
Nick's was truly unique, with a "distressed primary school"
colour scheme of thick layered-on-over-the-years bright blue
and red gloss paint. And the all-important freestanding
wooden chairs, some - it has to be said - rather too wobbly for
comfort (especially after a huge cooked breakfast, if you know
what I mean) plus struggling-to-survive houseplants.
The people who ran it were delightful, with a genuine old-fashioned
courtesy. And there was always a peaceful, relaxed vibe
about the place. I never saw it busy or crowded - except
perhaps on match days at the nearby Leyton Orient - and that
was, in a strange way, part of its attraction. A great
place for reading the Saturday Guardian over a prolonged breakfast
- and stepping out of time. Maybe it will re-open - but
I don't think it will ever be the same. (Just before I
go, a quick footnote about Mick's Family Diner, mentioned
above. It doesn't meet the Classic Cafe criteria,
but it has the right kind of feeling to it. And if it's
left to its own devices for a good few years it might age into
a classic....) Anyway, thanks again for a really worthwhile
website - I loved the Iain Sinclair link by the way.
A great site... Excellent
stuff. What about if we have suggestions to offer?
a work of genius as
a cafe fan since childhood it's such joy to find like minded
souls in the world - an essential antidote to the horrors of
invading and ever multiplying aroma, costa, starbucks et al.....killing
off all sense of character and charm in our streets. long may
your good works continue!
i just love your site
...and can't help myself but tell you of a fantastic cafe i found
on the vale by shephards bush last year ... as you say these
places disappear overnight and i can't remember it's name but
it was a cross between a thai cafe and a greesy joe, it was formica-tastic
and very tasty .... !! if you have the time perhaps you could
investigate it and add it to your site.....keep up the good work
A message to say Well
Done for producing the best website I've ever come across! You
are indeed people after my own heart, which breaks every time
a classic caff is re-fitted (to be blunt I would rather they
were closed down than stripped of their fittings and bastardised
into a modern eaterie)...Living as I do in East London, I miss
the Brunest at Mile End a lot. But you have omitted my other
deeply mourned favourite... the Roma Cafe on Lea Bridge Road,
Leyton, E10. It lost it's glorious pale green formica and chrome
exterior and wooden and formica interior and is now refitted
in garish yellow and red with those dreadful joined together
seats in the McDonalds style. Disaster!...I came past Alfredo's
in Islington the other day (I just have to look at the 'Ices
2d and 6d' signs in the window evertyime I am in the area!) and
was horrifed to see it boarded up. Has it gone forever. What
a tragedy if it has. Keep up your great work.
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