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SOHO FESTIVAL: It's oh-so Soho as loyal customers celebrate Bar Italia's 65th anniversary

Tim Arnold’s stage-eye view of the proceedings. Below: Suggs with Tim Arnold

Published: 11 July, 2014

HUNDREDS of locals and loyal customers came out to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the legendary Frith Street coffee shop Bar Italia on Sunday.

The music stage was firmly at the centre of the action and Tim Arnold, The Soho Hobo, who organised the acts, was joined by Suggs and Adam Ant on stage. The crowds erupted when the Madness frontman performed the now-legendary hits Baggy Trousers and It Must Be Love.

But despite these high-calibre performances, Tim Arnold believes there were two other performers that really drew the crowds.

“The Polledri family do the one thing that all the favourite venues do in Soho. They’re leading men and leading ladies of a show,” he said. 

Adam Ant performing at the Bar Italia celebrations (Picture: RJK photos)

“They open the show at the beginning of the day and the curtain comes down at the end. You don’t get that at Nando’s. You don’t get that at Starbucks, there’s no effort to engage with the audience. 

“But at Bar Italia, they’re show people, they might be running businesses and restaurants, but actually they put on a show every day, that’s why so many people were outside Bar Italia on Sunday.”

Soho Society president Leslie Hardcastle said preserving independent businesses like Bar Italia will help Soho continue to flourish. 

“They closed the road down, they had a party, hundreds of people came and all the restaurants around there did well. They’re not going to do that for a Starbucks, and that’s the trouble with chains moving in.”

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