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David Johnson’s Cafes

June 6, 2024
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.

“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

8 Responses leave one →
  1. Mark permalink
    June 6, 2024

    Great way to wake up with these works of art to feast the eyes on. The wondrous greasy spoon. Must’ve been in one or two of those back in the day.
    Really good thanks.

  2. Susan Postlethwaite permalink
    June 6, 2024

    Delightful, I love a traditional cafe.

  3. Ron Wilkinson permalink
    June 6, 2024

    A lot more character than what we got in San Diego, CA. I’d try a full English breakfast in one of those cafés.

  4. June 6, 2024

    The Empire Cafe was in Cambridge Heath Road/Mare Street in a circle of shops near the canal.

  5. June 6, 2024

    Was/is Alfredo’s on Essex Road, N1?

  6. Cherub permalink
    June 6, 2024

    Don’t you just miss places like this? There is one café like these left in my home town, the original was demolished to make way for a dual carriageway that ended up being rerouted due to public pressure. The newer premises have the original signage from the 50s, the owners took it with them. I’d much rather have a cup of tea and a snack in a place like this as one of the soulless chains we have to put up with now, with their fancy coffees, dry refrigerated sandwiches and even drier expensive cakes.

  7. Lorraine Whebell permalink
    June 6, 2024

    Looking at these photos makes me feel nostalgic..all long gone unfortunately..sandwiches rolls tea etc…no paninis, wraps, sour dough…and 20 types of coffee.. give me a cheese and pickle sandwich anyday..

  8. June 6, 2024

    What a wonderful reminder of times past.

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