Early House

The Bernard Shaw, on South Richmond St, surrounded as it is by dereliction and self-inflicted graffiti, tends to attract your attention from time to time. A cool looking place, I can’t claim to have been in it too many times, but passing it a while back I noticed a different kind of change going on, one that did entice me through the door. In these recession busting times, it’s always somehow uplifting to see someone do something clever and inventive, especially if that thing also comes with coffee. In this case the thing that caught my notice was a small change to one of the windows. In a nutshell, it was open. Some graffiti of a different order announced that I could walk up to it and get a coffee. A little shelf had milk and sugar on it. I went in and it turned out that there was a fully functioning Italian cafe running behind the bar. The clever thing about this of course is that two separate enterprises are successfully coexisting in the same space. The cafe runs in the morning until around 3pm, and then the pint glasses are dusted off for the bar to take over until the small hours. When you pass by during cafe hours it just looks right. A part of this is location – the big windows are belted with sunlight all during the late morning and early afternoon. It means you can see right in as you pass by, and sit in the sun indoors, a very effective form of enticement. The rest is down to a very inventive attitude – lots of small (cheap) moves that let you know what’s going on, and make it seem like a good idea to stop and refuel. Some photos below should give you an idea of how it’s done. The coffee, by the way, is Sicilian, and is very very good.

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