In memory of
My occasional guilty freelancer pleasure is to take myself off for lunch somewhere alone. Nowhere fancy, but normally involving a spaghetti Carbonara, a cappuccino and a copy of The Gentlewoman. It’s a guilty thing why? My dish of choice is many things, but it’s not healthy and it makes me incredibly sleepy, so it’s not great for production levels either.
For no good reason, I found myself while at my biannual carbonara yesterday, reminiscing about a caff where Ros and I used to meet. In fact, we even hatched our first ideas for an online magazine there (RIP that idea). That magical place was one of London’s last 50′s caffs, The New Piccadilly.
It had all the elements of a great place to sit – cool interior, unpretentious atmosphere and well-dressed diners. It has pained me to walk down Denman street since it closed in 2007, after 56 years in business and still with its original decor.
The author of Classic Cafes, Adrian Maddox*, and The Twentieth Century Society, both tried to get the cafe listed before it was finally driven out of the west end by a ludicrous hike in rent, replaced by an underwhelming business my brain can’t recall.
Here’s the owner Lorenzo Marioni, whose Italian family started the business when he was just seven, and who, if you ever frequented the caff, you’ll have seen every time.
There’s a great interview with him at The Guardian, published around the time he was closing up, poignantly – he speaks about how it’ll be nice to not be at work seven-days-a-week, to see more of his children and to do the crossword on the couch. I hope that’s exactly how you’re spending time Lorenzo, though your cafe is much missed.
*He did manage to persuade English Heritage to award grade II listing to another great cafe, E Pellicci, on Bethnal Green Road.