Although this week’s publication onto the ‘London Shoes’ website is brief in its content in comparison to the usual postings – the subject matter in question proudly has its own little niche in post-war history, in terms of its service to Londoners.
This week’s blog is the 2nd posting in the London Shoes category of “London’s Classic Cafes” – and is all about the famous and extremely popular “Polo Bar” in Bishopsgate-EC2.
The ‘Polo Bar’ café first opened as the ‘Marco Polo Bar’ way back in 1953, when a Mrs Bruna Inzani and her husband set up a business that provided traditional English breakfasts and other home cooked dishes, to hungry Londoner’s.
The café has always been ideally situated in London’s Bishopsgate area, directly opposite the main entrance to the very busy Liverpool Street Station terminus.
Today, some 66 years since it first opened, the ‘Polo Bar’ is still proudly owned and run by the Inzani family – who jokingly declare that they have been in business ‘long before rock-n-roll was cool’.
Another big ‘claim-to-fame’ of the ‘Polo Bar’ is that is one of only a handful of “24 Hour” eatery establishments throughout the whole of London – and as a result, punters don’t actually ‘come through the door’ of the ‘Polo Bar’, because there aint one!!!.
Because the ‘Polo Bar’ is open every minute of hour of every day of the year, there was no point in forking out good money for a front door, as it would never have needed to be ‘shut’.
Christmas Day is the only day that the Polo Bar is closed – and to secure the place, all they do is quite simply nail a sheet of plywood over the entrance for that day.
The Polo Bar is spread across 3 floors – and not only does it serve food 24 hours per day, it also has a 24 hour booze licence – so you can imagine just how popular the place is.
Throughout any 24 hour period, the cafe serves customers from all walks of life such as cabbies – policemen & women (the City of London Police Station is just a few doors away) – para-medics – insurance brokers (Lloyds of London is just down the road) – bankers – shift workers – people waiting for a later train from Liverpool Street Station and tourists, just to name but a few – and then of course, you have all the ‘clubbers’ and night-owls – all of whom enjoy the delights of its varied menu, and the booze it serves up.
Naturally, the café can sometimes get a bit ‘lively’ and noisy in the wee wee hours, and so ‘bouncers’ are on-the-(non-existent) door to keep any rowdy punters under control throughout late evening through till dawn.
In my ignorance I have to admit that I was never aware of the existence of the ‘Polo Bar’ even though I would have walked right past it literally thousands of times throughout my life – which is a big shame, as had I known about its existence, then it would most certainly have been a place I would have ended up at on my way home from nights out ‘up-west’ during my late teens, and then later in life when making my way home from Bank do’s etc – as it’s an ideal place to grab one final ‘cheeky’ one, and a nice plate of ‘munch’ to soak-up the booze, before boarding the last train out of Liverpool Street Station.
Still – now that I’m aware of the café, I can envisage me using it on a regular basis from now on, as it’s the ideal place for me to grab a coffee and a sarnie, before making my way home following a full days ‘blogging’.
Anyway – I managed to grab a table on the ground floor of the Polo Bar, and then enjoyed getting stuck in to a massive doorstep salt beef sandwich plus a generously filled bacon baguette, washed down with lovely cappuccino.
So – the ‘Polo Bar’ one of London’s classic cafes – a family run business, 66 years old and still going strong – and in my opinion, definitely a place worth visiting if you ever find yourself in the Bishopsgate area of the City and feeling peckish and/or fancying a ‘cheeky’ one – no matter what time of day.
Hope the accompanying photos bring this little “Shoes” story to life for ya.