Picture this: It’s FA Cup day and four girls with a craving for decent Greek food are running around Soho in a blind panic.
Where could we go that was near The Golden Lion Pub on Dean Street, (our venue to watch the game) ? Something miraculous happens: we remember a place that meets all of our demands and in unison we shout: ‘Jimmy’s!’
Normally too inebriated to remember its exact location (so very Soho Scene) we tactically break off and venture down Frith and Greek Street in pairs.
Re-convening on Old Compton St we remained puzzled: it’s disappeared. Jimmy’s has gone.
With heavy hearts we decide to eat at Amalfi’s instead, which was wonderful, but not Greek and definitely not Jimmy’s.
Opening its doors in 1948, Jimmy’s was the oldest Greek restaurant in Soho and was loved by many regulars with customer, John Andrews stating: “it was an institution.”
The place was musty and dark, the wine terrible. but the food was a thing of wonder: cheap and plentiful enough to feed a Trojan army.
Quirky, independent, business is the life-blood of Soho but sadly they are slowly being consumedd by the vampires of big business. In recent years rent prices in Soho have quadrupled and if this is the reason for Jimmy’s departing Frith St after 60 years than that is a tragedy of real Greek proportions.
When will it stop? Probably until Soho resembles the vacuous Westfield’s that lie either side of it. Westminster council and government remain unmoved by the plight of small business’ in the area.
Very recently the 100 club music venue nearly closed its famous doors, due to increased rental costs. The only reason this historic London institution is still able to open its doors to young bands and audiences is due to the 11th hour intervention of an anonymous donor. This due to a high profile fundraising campaign which featured the likes of Ronnie Wood and Paul Weller.
At the time, club owner Jeff Horton told the Evening Standard:
“It makes me so angry. The Government, Westminster council and even some of the commercial landlords say they want to help small businesses, they say they want to preserve London’s uniqueness, they want to help multi-cultural venues.Yet we’re all that and all these organisations have all dumped on us from a great height.”
The 100 Club has survived. Jimmy’s vanished silently, without a whisper. In effacing small business’ out of Soho in favour of prosaic homogeneity, government is eroding the very fabric of London culture.
Sites of historical importance such as St Paul’s and Westminster Abbey are protected under the banner of ‘cultural significance’. This should also be applied to places such as The 100 club, Ronnie Scott’s and Madame Jo Jo’s.
Sadly, it’s too late for Jimmy’s.