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Punters searching for new place to lunch after cafe closure

PUBLISHED: 07:00 26 January 2010 | UPDATED: 15:31 05 October 2010

WORKERS and artists alike are this week searching for a new place to lunch after one of the East End s favourite traditional cafes closed down.

By Else Kvist

WORKERS and artists alike are this week searching for a new place to lunch after one of the East End's favourite traditional cafes closed down.

Rossi's on Hanbury Street in Spitalfields, which opened in 1951, served up its last fish and chips on Friday. Up to 400 punters from workers to artists came through its doors daily to enjoy its good 'greasy spoon' grub. Even contemporary artists Gilbert and George frequented the café daily.

Its owners Harold and Jenny Londono say they have been priced out of the area after they failed to renew their £65,000 a year lease. Instead new leaseholders, believed to want to turn it into offices, have offered £85,000 a year.

At lunch time yesterday one of the café's daily punters Terry O'Leary, 50, said: "We're just out looking for somewhere else to eat. Rossi's was so friendly and staff made an effort to get to know people. You could get a cuppa for 80p and spend around £4.50 for a meal. It's difficult to find somewhere you don't have to pay £7-8."

Local shops are being "forced out" of the area with branded and upmarket shops creeping in since the redevelopment of Spitalfields Market, Terry insisted.

The Londonos took their case to a tribunal but lost their case to renew their lease. They are now hoping to find alternative affordable premises in the area.

The café's owner, and wife of former owner Johnny Rossi, Maria Rossi, said the Londonos had been "good people" but that it was difficult to turn down a "much higher" offer for the lease.

Two upstairs flats have also been cleared, but Mrs Rossi could not yet confirm who would be taking over the premises.

Punters have set up a Facebook page following the café online.

For more on the café's last day and punters' reactions see next Thursday's Advertiser


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