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“This is my family” Meet Antonio Monica, the man behind the now famous coffee shop at Metquarter Liverpool

10 months ago

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He’s known as the Italian Scouser so it’s no surprise Metquarter barista Antonio Monica has combined the two cultures on the slogans that decorate his reusable cups.

The Milan-born coffee maker is so famous for iconic greetings like ‘Ciao Lad’ to people when they visit his coffee shop inside Metquarter Liverpool – he’s even had the sayings printed on coffee cup sleeves!

Karen Edwards, an artist from neighbouring Metquarter resident The Art Quarter Liverpool, created the designs for a range of merchandise, including mug and coaster designs. 

And why not? 

Metquarter
Credit: Caffetteria Dantonio

“People would just come in and say ‘ciao lad’ and the phrase just stuck,” Antonio smiles. “And it’s a nice way to say hello to my regulars.”

After first opening his own shop, Caffetteria Dantonio, in the Metquarter some years ago, Antonio now has a stall (right next to Costa who he used to work for!).

And while he reckons he might have a few celebrity customers including some of the Liverpool players, the truth is he is a bit of a celebrity himself.

A social post earlier this year by local baker Sugar Smith asking people to support him after she saw Antonio looking ‘lost’ behind his counter went viral.

He says his wife saw it and told him to get ready because he was going to be busy – and she was right.

The queues were out of the door, and he now has a steady stream of customers keen to buy his coffee as well as meet the man himself.

Metquarter
Credit: Caffetteria Dantonio

“Some people come here and give me money without even buying a coffee,” he says.

It’s clear, though, that with many regular customers, there’s a reason why people keep going back to the friendly coffee maker who’s always ready to sit and chat to the people who go in.

Not only is he renowned for his quality brew and the tasty sandwiches and pastries he serves with them, there is, he says a nice, peaceful atmosphere.

“I know everybody, and everybody knows me,” he says. “This is my family.

“I’m not in it for the money, this is a community coffee shop.

“I am myself and people know that if I’m nice it’s because I’m nice.  I love what I do, I love meeting people, and I’m not friendly because it’s my job.

“When I go on holiday I feel sorry for leaving my customers!”

Antonio came over to England 26 years ago and started working for coffee giant Costa, before deciding to go it alone.

He opened Caffetteria Dantonio on the upper floor of the Liverpool shopping mall in 2005, before swapping it for the stall he now has downstairs.

“I like doing things my way,” he explains. “To me, making coffee is natural.

“I don’t know what I’m doing that’s better. It’s good coffee, for sure.  I drink it myself and I don’t want to drink rubbish.”

Credit: Caffetteria Dantonio

Like Sugar Smith who called on people to support Antonio, the Italian Scouser is also keen to encourage support for independents like him.

And he smiles: “Small business owners always look after you more – remember! 

“Some of my customers have been coming here for 20 years, so I must be doing something right…”

Maybe it’s that good coffee and the fact that, as Antonio says: “It’s served with love.”

Follow Antonio on Instagram here or visit the Metquarter website here.

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