IT’S the end of an era as Greenock’s West Station Cafe leaves its iconic premises and becomes purely a takeaway outlet.
Owner Carlo Biondi has taken the tough decision to downsize what is one of the area’s last traditional Italian cafes. It follows the effects which the covid pandemic, and rising costs, have had on the business.
His family have traded from the Newton Street building, perched above the West Station platform, for more than half a century, with Carlo himself working there for 42 years.
West Station Cafe is not moving far — to 9 Newton Street, just around the corner from Nelson Street where Carlo was born.
But the new location will not have a sit-in facility; and the tables have already closed at the current venue, bringing to an end something of a Greenock institution.
Carlo said: “We’ve been thinking about this for a couple of years. The covid rule hit us, and rising costs. Not knowing if there would be any work for the staff. A takeaway will be more manageable.”
“Eighty to ninety per cent of the sit-in customers came in most days; lovely people. We enjoyed a chat. That’s something I will miss.”
It was Carlo who started putting up photos of film and sports stars, which became a signature feature of the cafe.
He explained: “I started putting up the photos because my wife wouldn’t let me put them up in the house! The pictures are coming with us to the new place. We are taking a wee bit of the cafe with us. Everyone recalls the pictures.”
One customer commenting on the cafe’s Facebook page said: “This will be such a strange change, been going to the café since I was really wee … used to be in every Sunday morning as a kid after Hector McNeil’s Baths with my family for a bacon roll and strawberry milkshake for breakfast.”
West Station Cafe will closed from Monday (22 November) till Friday 26 November, opening at 9 Newton Street on Saturday 27 November.