Café Monico

Above: The Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain (1885-93) – “In 1947 A. L. Champneys, in a letter to The Times, referred to the memorial and stated that ‘Shortly before its unveiling I was walking with my father, Basil Champneys, in Piccadilly when we happened to meet Gilbert (Sir Alfred Gilbert RA) who invited us inside the hoarding to see the memorial. He then explained the rebus on the name Shaftesbury intended by the downward direction of the arrow, which would bury its shaft in the earth.’ “

From: Penelope Fitzgerald’s Charlotte Mew and Her Friends (1984) Chapter FourteenThe Poetry Bookshop:

“(Alida Klementaski) and Harold Monro first met at a poets’ club dinner at the Cafe Monico on 14 March 1913. The subject was the nineties poet John Davidson (the author of Thirty Bob a Week). The soup was Veloute Shakespeare. Alida, in a borrowed Liberty dress, was the reader, and Harold Monro realised, when he heard her, that there were women, as well as men, for whom poetry was life…”

From: Survey of London: Volumes 31 and 32, St James Westminster, Part 2. Originally published by London County Council, London (1963):

“…The Monico Restaurant was established at No. 15 Tichborne Street in 1877 by Giacomo and Battista Monico. An advertisement for the Café Monico on the back of a programme of 1878 for the Argyll Rooms mentions the ‘Grand Café Saloon. Grill Room. Best Ventilated Billiard Saloons in London. Supper after the Theatres. Restaurant Open till Half-past 12’. The fortune of the establishment was made by the Metropolitan Board of Works when, by the demolition of Nos. 1–11 (consec.) Tichborne Street and the houses opposite No. 15 in 1885–6 for the formation of Shaftesbury Avenue, it promoted the Monico from a narrow side street to a prominent position overlooking the much enlarged Piccadilly Circus. Making the most of their good fortune Giacomo and Battista Monico obtained from the Board a building lease of a plot in Shaftesbury Avenue which abutted at the back upon their premises in Tichborne Street (now renumbered as No. 46 Regent Street). The building which they erected there in 1888–9 was designed by Messrs. Christopher and White, and more than doubled their business accommodation.

The Shaftesbury Avenue front of the Café Monico, except for the plinth of polished grey granite, was faced with Burmantofts buffcoloured terra-cotta. The most prominent feature of the design was a large central gable, dressed with volutes, urns and a pediment, placed between the smaller gables of dormers. At the first-floor level was a strapwork-fronted balcony, resting on console brackets rising from the plain-shafted pilasters of the ground storey. Marble was lavishly used inside, for the staircase, and for the columns and arches framing the walnut screens that separated the vestibule from the grill-room and bar. Passenger lifts served the dining-room on the first floor, and the Masonic suite on the second floor. The ground floor communicated with the older premises in Piccadilly Circus, which were enlarged and redecorated with marble wall-linings when the extension was built.

Battista Monico died in 1893 and Giacomo in 1910, and the restaurant was then carried on by the two sons of the latter. In the late 1950’s the business was acquired by Forte’s and Co. Ltd., but the buildings were demolished soon afterwards for the impending rebuilding of this part of Piccadilly Circus…”

From Wikipedia:

“Café Monico is a restaurant on London’s Shaftesbury Avenue (situated between the Gielgud Theatre and the Sondheim Theatre).

It was originally established in 1877 at 15 Tichborne Street.

The first World Weightlifting Championships, then known as the International Amateur Weight Lifting Championship, was held at the Café Monico in 1891, and the Climbers’ Club was formed there in 1897.

The banquet for the London 1899 chess tournament took place there.

After some time as the nightclub Avalon, a refurbished Cafe Monico reopened under the new ownership of Soho House in April 2016. It is now a two-floor restaurant serving European dishes under the supervision of consultant chef Rowley Leigh.”

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