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Liverpool’s iconic Cafe Tabac is turning 50 and wants your memories & merch!

1 month ago

Liverpool’s iconic Cafe Tabac is turning 50 and wants your memories & merch!

Cafe Tabac is one of Liverpool’s best loved venues.

Liverpool’s iconic Cafe Tabac is turning the big 5-0 this year and it’s on the search for customers’ photos and merch to create memory walls.

The independent Bold Street café has become an institution in the city since it was opened by Rita Lawrence in 1974.

She became the no-nonsense matriarch of Tabac, feeding, looking after and keeping in check an eclectic Tabac family, made up of everyone from musicians and actors, to uni students and professors.

Margi Clarke used to get calls from her agent on the café’s pay phone, Holly Johnson hung out there, Pete Burns ordered his favourite BLTs, and mates met for breakfast or late night cocktails.

“The beauty of Tabac has always been you never quite know who you’re going to be sitting next to. It’s a beautiful melting pot of the city, which is the appeal,” says a spokesperson

“In a way, Tabac was the social media of its time. Back when nobody had mobile phones or any kind of digital connection at all, if you were ever looking for someone you instinctively headed there.

The first memory walls at Cafe Tabac
The first memory walls at Cafe Tabac

“All of Liverpool life just gravitated there and it still does because Tabac has always known what it is and what it does well. You get that warm hug-like feeling of familiarity when you walk through the door.”

Although there were no camera phones back in the early years, thousands of print photos must have been taken in Tabac over the decades and they’re among the memorabilia the café is now trying to track down.

“We’re looking to build some memory walls of all the friends, faces, events and everything in-between that has coloured the past five fabulous decades.

“Our aim is to revive the nostalgia and heritage of Café Tabac, a venue that’s woven into the cultural fabric of the city. 

“We’ve already started giving the back room a makeover in the original Tabac burgundy, filling the walls with pics of Liverpool’s great and good and posters of legendary gigs – but we’re sure there’s more stuff out there hidden in drawers, boxes and attic spaces. 

“If anyone’s got any old Tabac menus squirrelled away, flyers or a snap of you and your best mate from the 80s or 90s taken in Tabac we’d love to see it and hang in pride of place. 

“We’ve already had some great items sent to us – pics of cafe regulars over the years, long-forgotten about theatre and club flyers and loads of photos of the much-loved golden-hearted Rita, who used to run Tabac with an iron-fist in a yellow washing up glove!

“We’re keeping a completely open mind about what we’ll get because Tabac means so many things to so many different people.

“It could be anything from couples who had their wedding reception here (we’ve already been in touch with one of those), to bands just starting out who maybe had a break in Tabac, or even just s snapshot of the social history of Liverpool life and the evolution of the city over the last 50 years. 

“It’s telling that story, unedited and totally authentic, and it’s all about the people who’ve passed through that door.”

Everything will be well cared-for by the team at Tabac, so it can either be donated to go on display, or loaned to be digitally scanned and returned, and all photos will be credited. 

If you’re a Tabac regular, past or present, with something to share, drop an email to Tabac manager Ian on info@cafetabac.co.uk or just pop in next time you’re on Bold Street and see one of the team.

Get the latest food and drink news for Liverpool City Region HERE.

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