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East End says farewell to Nevio Pellicci—its best loved café owner

PUBLISHED: 17:34 04 December 2008 | UPDATED: 13:52 05 October 2010

Nevio featured in the East London Advertiser in May

Nevio featured in the East London Advertiser in May

TRIBUTES have been pouring in from celebrities, shopkeepers and ordinary customers following the sudden death of one of London's best loved café owners, Nevio Pellicci—the day after his 83rd birthday. He was the second generation to run the East End's famous Pellicci's Café down Bethnal Green, now a listed building, which has been serving up teas and meals to generations of Londoners since 1900

Julia Gregory

TRIBUTES have been pouring in from celebrities, shopkeepers and ordinary customers following the sudden death of one of London’s best loved café owners, Nevio Pellicci—the day after his 83rd birthday.

He was the second generation to run the East End’s famous Pellicci’s Café down Bethnal Green, now a listed building, which has been serving up teas and meals to generations of Londoners since 1900.

He kept a book of photos and autographs of some of his famous customers down the years, who included Guy Ritchie, Henry Cooper and American David Schwimmer from Friends fame.

Celebs also included East Enders like Patsy Palmer who first came in as a child, Steven Berkoff, the Krays who lived round the corner and nowadays artists Gilbert and George who live just a mile away in Spitalfields. A Christmas card from Charlie Kray is part of the family archives.

BBC Radio presenter Eric Hall, who grew up in the East End, said: “I first came in here when I was a kid and have great memories of a wonderful caff’. Nevio made a social club here.”

Nevio was famed for welcoming customers as “young lady” or “young gentleman” irrespective of age—to make them feel good.

Shopkeepers along the Bethnal Green Road have also been paying their tributes.

Shane Sexton, manager of nearby Penessi menswear, said: “He will be a loss to Bethnal Green.”

Nevio Pellicci was born in rooms above the café in 1928 and started working there when he was 14 during the Second World War after leaving school, the second youngest of seven children.

His family was of Italian origin from Tuscany. The town of Lucca awarded him a gold medal presented to overseas Italians’ for their achievements.

Nevio married Maria in 1965 after they met when she came to work in the café. They had three children. Two of them, Anna and Nevio, both work in the café along with their mum and cousin Tony who has been there 39 years.

English Heritage awarded Pellicci’s Grade II listing—the first café ever to be listed—for its Art Deco wooden panelling and logo on the floor which was commissioned by Nevio’s mother Elide.

Adrian Maddox, author of Classic Cafés, rates Pellicci’s as one of his top 10 cafés.

“Nevio built up Pellicci’s over the better part of a century into one of the world’s great cafés,” he said.

“His spirit and love of family lives on in every nook and cranny. Generations to come will enjoy its ambiance exactly as Nevio would have wished.”

Nevio Pellicci’s funeral is at St Peter’s Italian Church in Clerkenwell next Friday, December 12, at 12.15pm.

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