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David Johnson’s Cafes

July 23, 2022
by the gentle author

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Fredson’s Cafe, Alie St

David Johnson took these magnificent photographs of cafes in Kodachrome around 1980, published here for the first time today.

“When I lived in East London, I started this project to photograph some classic cafes, mainly in the East End – but also elsewhere as I came across them in my travels. I think it was the sign-writing and eclectic typography which were the main attractions. I realised that they were not going to be around much longer. Many were run by Italian families who started up in the post-war period. Annoyingly, I did not make a note of the locations – so if you can help, please leave a comment.”

David Johnson

Aeron Cafe

Bridge Cafe

Corner Parlour

Alfredo’s Cafe, Islington

Sign at Alfredo’s Cafe


Gee’s Cafe

George’s Cafe, Whitechapel

The Happy Fillet

Jim’s Cafe, Islington

Jubilee Cafe

Moon & Sixpence Cafe

Norman’s Nosh Bar

Norman’s Nosh Bar

Phyllis’s Cafe

Silvio Cafe

The Ninety Eight

The Village Rest

Viking Cafe

Magno Cafe

Leslie’s Cafe

Crawford Cafe


Empire Cafe

Photographs copyright © David Johnson

You may also like to take a look at

John Claridge’s Cafe Society

Eleanor Crow’s Cafes

12 Responses leave one →
  1. Bob Ayers permalink
    July 23, 2022

    I think the Crawford Cafe might have been the Crawford Dairy at one time. We lived in the flats opposite in Macready House. We called it Jones’s dairy. It is in Crawford Street and round the corner from the old Seymour Road baths West 1

  2. July 23, 2022

    These are just brilliant. I’m really fond of the old cafes, but there are very few left now, if any. I don’t recognise many of these but I used to frequent The Copper Grill near Liverpool Street station, Bruno’s Cafe in Commercial Street, Poppies on Cable Street, Frank’s in Goodge Street, Marino’s in Rathbone Place and many more. I’m so sad to witness the demise of these places where my usual lunchtime order was: “Spanish Omlette, chips and peas, two slices on white and a tea please” Very happy days indeed.

  3. Peter permalink
    July 23, 2022

    Ah, the famous LVs, I remember them!

  4. Mark permalink
    July 23, 2022

    NOSH BAR!! Love it.
    Caff’s as they should be.
    Proper working class nosh.

  5. July 23, 2022

    Superb pictures. Every single café, no matter how “run down”, had its charm, its very reason for being and certainly its guests. I would love to drop in at ANY of them.

    The Jubilee is closed due to excessive partying, the Happy Fillet surprisingly serves fish and hips, and the Empire makes a rather understated impression in relation to its big name. — What times!

    Love & Peace

  6. Peter Holford permalink
    July 23, 2022

    Great memories. I smiled at the sign for Fish & Hips at the Happy Fillet.

  7. paul loften permalink
    July 23, 2022

    What a great collecion of Cafes. I am sure I have had more than a sandwich and a cuppa in at least one but my memory lets me down on that score. However the very last photo doesnt seem to have a name but please tell I am not seeing a cat with bandages on the counter ! Perhaps i should have reached for my glasses. There is a little verse written by the late, great Allan Sherman that I offer as tribute to this unknown cafe.
    Do not make a stingy sandwich
    Pile the cold cuts high
    Customers should see salami
    Coming through the rye

  8. Cherub permalink
    July 23, 2022

    How I miss old style cafés like this. Everywhere in Britain seems to have fallen under the spell of chains like Costa and Starbucks. I never understand the attraction of the latter here in Switzerland as there are so many nicer independent places where you can get a decent coffee and something to eat. The chains have no soul.

  9. Sigrid permalink
    July 23, 2022

    I wish they were still around….
    Alfredo’s Cafe, Islington was/is in Essex Road, N1, on the right hand side coming from the Angel, just passed Islington Green on the other side of the road. The outside of it today still retains some of the old wording. It is now a steak house called : The Meat People. ( Sandwich at £9).

  10. Richard permalink
    July 23, 2022

    Yes I miss those places where you could just go in and order tea and a custard slice. There’s a cafe at the end of Marchmont street I used to go to in the seventies and I still go there. Get a good fry up.

  11. Nick Harris permalink
    July 24, 2022

    I think The Village Rest was/is in Woodford Brige opposite what used to be The White Hart pub.

  12. Marcia Howard permalink
    August 23, 2022

    Wonderful images

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