Pacitti Croydon Ice Cream

Café Culture

Alfonso Pacitti

12 Aug, 2013 10:52 am

Café Culture

Widespread in today’s urban and metropolitan society is the upsurge in what is often called ‘coffee shop’ culture. Seen as a recent phenomena, it has in fact been around in many guises for many years. When immigrant families settle in a new community, they tend not to try and compete with the locals but rather try and offer something different. This is what the Italians did in Britain in the shape of cafés and also fish and chip shops.

From the early days, Italian immigrants and Pacittis in particular, committed themselves to setting up and developing confectioners and cafés. In fact one of the earliest documentation supporting this approach comes from an advert in the classified section of the Edinburgh Evening News of 1883. An entry in the 4th May edition read:

Italian Ice Cream & Confectionery Business for Sale
Bargain, party going abroad
Nicola Pacitti 38 St Mary’s Street

The Scotland censuses of 1881 through 1901 indicate the same pattern. In 1881, three of the four Pacittis were confectioners; the fourth was a street musician. In 1891, five of the six families were described as being in the businesses of Ice Cream Manufacturer, Restaurateur or Confectioner. By 1901, ten of the sixteen Pacitti family groupings were involved in these same businesses. This photograph, dated 1907, was one of the first Pacitti cafés in Edinburgh.

From my own family, three brothers of my grandfather Alfonso also established café businesses in and around Glasgow. Alfonso had the King’s Café on George Street, Glasgow (see photo below). Carmine had two cafés in Holytown and Carfin. Michele ran a Confectioners and Tobacconists on Dumbarton Road, Glasgow and Gioacchino established the Ramblers Café in Uddingston.

Kings Cafe

As a teenager, I enjoyed working in another family café, The Cosy Neuk in Stepps that belonged to my Nonna Giulia - helping to make the traditional white ice-cream so typical and loved of Glasgow Italian cafés.

Another Pacitti family settled in Croydon, England and established a major Ice Cream business there in the 1920s. At one point, the business ran three individual Ice Cream vans and the family-run business comprised three brothers: Angelo (aka Archie), Carminello (aka Harry) and Luigi (aka Lew). The photo at the top of this article shows the three vans.

Croydon Pacitti

Judging by the contented faces on these children, the ice cream on sale was obviously of the best Italian gelato.

This innovative approach is still alive today in Belgium; Pacittis originating from Cerasuolo are the owners of an upmarket artisan ice cream business located at Chaussée d’Alsemberg, Uccle; a southern suburb of Brussels, Belgium. Marco and his wife Carmen run the business that was originally established by his father Albert - hence the name ‘Pacitti Al’. Albert’s father, Antonio first arrived in Belgium from Cerasuolo in 1930.

Glacier Pacitti

More information can be found at the business website: