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A Greek Tragedy: Jimmy’s leaves Frith Street.

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!’

Jimmy’s Greek Restaurant, Frith Street.

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.

Discussion

9 thoughts on “A Greek Tragedy: Jimmy’s leaves Frith Street.

  1. greek foods can be quite salty at times. ‘

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    Posted by Frankie Ghaemmaghami | December 17, 2012, 4:55 pm
  2. very sad used to eat there a lot as a student in the 80s great place – also loved Pollo Italian Cafe/restaurant at the end of old Compton – I think thats gone too

    Posted by Sue Page | March 28, 2013, 12:44 am
  3. I remember first going to Jimmy’s as a teenager in the 1950s. They always gave you plenty to eat, didn’t charge much and bread was free. I’m sorry to hear it’s gone.

    Posted by A Somerville | February 3, 2014, 2:45 pm
    • The food was great the atmosphere completely genuine and informal. we all went there as students and after. I wish there were more places like this. London needs small, traditional merchants and artisans that keep the character of streets intact. We need protection in law as in Paris. Paris passed the Local Urbanism Plan law in 2006 to improve the quality of life ,reduce income inequality, and preserve the city’s architectural heritage. Ground floor artisanal shops producing or selling food or crafts can be replaced only by other artisanal shops.No big chain or clothing shops are allowed. This is needed in London before it is too late……sadly it probably is too late.

      Posted by ian | October 4, 2017, 7:46 pm
  4. It was the early 1960s when I was living at no.3 Rathbone Street, not earning much money & had some of the best meals at Jimmy’s! Stuffed Vine Leaves kept me fit & alive, along with light snacks at The Lucky Spot in North Audley Street! There was also an excellent working man’s cafe in Shepherds Market for many years. That & regular workouts at the YMCA gym, which wasn’t a cliché at that time!
    I agree with Ian’s comment above.

    Posted by John O | October 4, 2017, 9:52 pm
  5. Fashionably late to the scene but Jimmy’s, gone? I am truly saddened to hear that. A Greek tragedy indeed, what an institutional loss. But how typically Jimmy’s to go without a fuss, just a grumpy shrug of the shoulders, a sour look and a turned back as you were about to ask for something else…great memories. I’m in the Colombian equivalent now in Medellin which prompted me to try to remember the name. “Jimmy’s”, marvellous.

    Posted by Ed Swales | February 18, 2018, 1:49 am
  6. First went there witha girlfriend at the tender age of 17 in May 1975. Moussaka and chips and salad and a glass of retsina for less than a quid! I’d never eaten foreign food before!!!!
    Next went in 1978 when at drama school. Kleftico and chips and salad and a glass of retsine… still a quid!!!!!!!
    Later went there in 1979 and finally in 89. Same menu but still great value§
    Could never remember the address so the first part of the evening was searching for the place. Brilliant!!!

    Posted by Michael Jones | April 23, 2018, 8:48 am
  7. Sad that another institution of my youth is gone. I ate here several times when I was living in Hornsey. I was looking for the places from my youth for our trip to London this fall. The other closed place is the Stockpot. Of course I don’t remember the food from there so fondly–more the affordable prices.

    Posted by George Herbert | April 30, 2018, 7:54 pm

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