The Haberdashery finds history under the tiles

pic: Courtney Gratrex

pic: Courtney Greatrex

When owners Massimo Bergamin and Greg Vukasovic decided to expand their popular coffee bar and restaurant, The Haberdashery, from a single store in Crouch End to a second store in Stoke Newington, they got a little bit more than they bargained for.

Before Bergamin and Vukasovic had made their mark on 170 Stoke Newington High Street, the chosen location for the new café, the owners had described the place as “awful”. The building featured a suspended ceiling and “horrible” pewter tiles.

The two decided to use their imagination and turn the location into something more appealing. Bergamin said: “When we took down the suspended ceiling, I could see a little blob of blue tile and had never been so excited.”

After chipping away three layers of tiles during the refurbishment, a red layer, a white later and a yellow, they discovered that the walls were covered with beautiful blue tiles from the 1900s.

The Haberdashery’s central ethos is to give everything a second life. Bergamin explained that 80% of what I could see was recycled. So despite the additional costs incurred with the impromptu restoration project for Bergamin and Vukasovic, things couldn’t have turned out better. Furniture, plates and cutlery were all found from trips to car boot sales and second hand stores.

The tiles, which appear to look significantly damaged, seem to have been chipped intentionally as the first layer of new tiles were put in place. The rustic feel, which fits well into the Haberdashery’s image, as put by Bergamin: “goes so well with what we do!”

pic: Courtney Greatrex

According to the Hackney Archives, the store was initially a seller of oil in the 1800s. It was later turned into a family-owned butcher where the original tiles have come from. Bergamin said: “I love the idea that people came here in 1908 and 1909 to buy meat.”

Whilst Bergamin and Vukasovic have very different backgrounds, they seem to make it work exceptionally well. Bergamin comes from a career in the catering industry and Vukasovic from financial services.

The two friends settled the decision to open their first coffee bar with a handshake over a drunken night out in 2008. A year later, their Crouch End store opened up and has been a roaring success.

The independent café has won a whole range of awards within the London coffee scene including best caffeine fix in London by Grazia Magazine and was listed in The Independent’s list of the 50 best cheap eats in the UK.

The Haberdashery has been a fantastic addition Stoke Newington’s High Street since opening on September 18. While Vukasovic will continue to manage the Crouch End store, Bergamin will continue to grow the new store.

Bergamin said: “We are extremely chuffed on how things worked out so far. Crouch End has given us lots of amazing recognitions. We are now hoping to replicate our success with our new venture in Stoke Newington.”

The bare tiles that now cover the walls of Stoke Newington have been given a new life, for all it’s customers to enjoy. The Haberdashery will not only be selling fantastic coffee and food but also hopes to hold regular events including comedy nights and live music in the future.


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