Remembering Nevio Pellicci: London’s finest cafe owner froths his last coffee


A little more of old working-class London is chipped away. The Italian formica cafe, once as popular in Britain’s major cities as Starbucks is today, has lost what was perhaps its greatest purveyor.

Classic Cafes, a lovely little website in its own right, has published an obituary of Nevio Pellici, owner of the greatest cafe – of caff – in London, who passed away earlier this month.

The Pelliccis have run a cafe on Bethnal Green Road since 1900. Nevio was born above the shop in 1928 and it continues to be run by his son, Nevio Jnr. I once  interviewed the family for a long piece I wrote about the gentrification of Bethnal Green for the Guardian’s Space Magazine and have been charmed by the place ever since.

Pellicis started life as an ice cream parlour, but it was rebuilt in 1946. Ever since, it’s been celebrated for its Art Deco-style marquetry panelled interior. It was awarded listed status by English Heritage (one of only two caffs to win the honour) who noted the establishment as, “altogether representing an architecturally strong and increasingly rare example of the intact and stylish Italian caff that flourished in London in the inter-war years’.

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