North London Cafe | Mario's Cafe

Current Exhibition

Ken's Birds by Kenneth Toby John Wotherspoon

"Ken (born 7th July 1937) has been frequenting my cafe for the past 23 years in which time he's been constantly using his love of art and painting to overcome his decline in poor health and mental illness. Helping him to soldier on in his beloved Kentish Town. Together with Cafe regular Matt Donaldson we've decided to curate an exhibition of Kens' bird paintings.

These original's will all be for sale at £50 each. The money will go to help support Ken in his daily life, he's also told me that he'd like 10% of the money to go toward's 'Mind' - a charity for helping people with mental illness.

The aim of the exhibition is to raise Ken's profile as a local artist who I feel uses a simple method to express his emotions. I think his paintings speak volumes."


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The year was 1958 when my grandfather Mario opened up ‘Tony’s Restaurant’ at 6 Kelly Street. He hailed from the Puglia region of Italy and had decided to name the place after his son and my dad, Tony.

Things bobbed along nicely for several years, attracting lots of students from the local Polytechnic just around the corner. Polytechnic’s gone now, its luxury flats, as you’d expect.

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Then in true Italian fashion, Tony had a bust up with Mario and walked out, leaving Mario to run the place alone. He struggled to continue without him and eventually leased the place to a Chinese family. So in 1974 ‘Tony’s Restaurant’ became ‘The Golden Sun’.

10 years passed before the lease was up for renewal and for reasons best known to him, my grandfather refused to lease it to the Chinese family. So it sat empty for 4 years during which time he passed away. It was then, Tony (my dad) found himself redundant from the Greek restaurant he’d been working at. He was aged 55. So striking a deal with his siblings, the place opened up as a cafe again.

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So much to our disapproval ‘Mario’s Cafe’ was born on 6th June 1989 and this time they named it after me! At the time I was an uneducated unemployed pot smoking wannabe rock star, so I was roped in to help out. I was only supposed to be there for a year until I realised how much music was associated with the area. The Falcon Pub quickly becoming my favourite music venue.

After a year, my dad had a heart attack, had to go off to have triple bypass surgery and left me holding the baby so to speak. I’m still here and the rest is history....

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A small selection of photos of the cafe as it is today.

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'Mario's Cafe' (2010)

by Roland Denning


6 Kelly Street
Kentish Town, London


Monday - Saturday, 7.30am - 4pm
Tube: Kentish Town
Bus: 46, 134, 214, 393, C2