Cafe Culture

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Cafe DelightImage copyright Jim Grover

On 19 August 1996, Cafe Delight opened its doors, on Clapham High Street, for the first time. To celebrate its 21st birthday, it is hosting an exhibition of photographs of many of its regular customers as well as everyday life in the cafe. The photographs were taken by local award-wining photographer Jim Grover.

When Cafe Delight opened, Izzy was 16 and had just left school. Two years later, his father died, leaving the destiny of Cafe Delight in the hands of Izzy and his new wife, Mehtap.

Izzy and MehtapImage copyright Jim Grover

Inside, you will find a wonderfully broad spectrum of patrons: a TV reporter, a stand-up comic, and a chain-saw wood sculptor rub shoulders with local builders, shop workers, and members of a local club for the deaf – among many others.

Inside Cafe DelightImage copyright Jim Grover
Cooking foodImage copyright Jim Grover
Woman eating and drinkingImage copyright Jim Grover
Man in cafeImage copyright Jim Grover

“This is not just a cafe with all of the traditional features you’d expect: great food, never-ending mugs of tea, friendly service, banter (plus racing tips) and spotlessly clean tables. It’s also a community – offering company, familiarity and security for those regulars who have made Cafe Delight part of their daily lives,” said Grover.

Two men eatingImage copyright Jim Grover

Some come for company and banter, others to eat and pass the time alone, reading the paper, picking horses, or watching the world go by through the cafe’s large windows. Some of Cafe Delight’s regulars have been coming since it first opened, others are more recent converts; many come every day.

CharlieImage copyright Jim Grover
Image caption When the cafe opened, Charlie was working as a tailor. Now, approaching his 90th birthday he is still making clothes.
Order slipsImage copyright Jim Grover
Ricky and JulieImage copyright Jim Grover
Image caption Friends Ricky and Julie are members of the Clapham Deaf Club and have been coming to the cafe for 10 and 15 years respectively.
Chef at workImage copyright Jim Grover
PerryImage copyright Jim Grover
Image caption Perry keeps the streets of Clapham clean and has been coming to the cafe for 12 years.
Inside the cafeImage copyright Jim Grover
GusImage copyright Jim Grover
Image caption In 1996, Gus was a sixth-former. Now, he works as a shop manager and has been a regular at the cafe for 19 years.
Tattoo on womanImage copyright Jim Grover
LeanneImage copyright Jim Grover
Image caption Leanne has been coming to the cafe for the past four years.
People eating, seen from aboveImage copyright Jim Grover
Carrying dirty dishesImage copyright Jim Grover
Man on mobile phoneImage copyright Jim Grover
Plate of foodImage copyright Jim Grover
Owners and customersImage copyright Jim Grover
Looking out of the cafe windowImage copyright Jim Grover

The photographs can be seen at Cafe Delight, 19 Clapham High Street, London, SW4 7TS, from 14 September to 31 October (closed Sundays).

To see the full selection of pictures and more work by Jim Grover visit his website.

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