Would it not bother you if Bethnal Green changed then?
Yeah a bit gentrified. But you know what. I’d like the area to be a bit nicer. I grew up when it was rougher in the area around where I grew up here. Do you know what I mean, it was like pubs were dingy. Sometimes I get an argument about that because it get’s a bit too fancy, but I like all the nice things, like you coming in trendier people. Do you know what I mean? I like the change of people that is coming in, it’s nice. Because this area has always changed. It used to be a big Jewish area, a big Muslim are now. But now it’s getting gentrified, now it’s getting trendy area. But I don’t mind it, I like it, some people complain about oh all the trendies, but you got a cat emporium down the street it’s like a caff for cats, we call it the pussy parlour me and my sister. But they call it the cat and emporium.
And there is a cereal bar, have you seen it? It’s like all American cereal and they charge for a bowl a quarter or something. (You can find that bar on Bricklane it’s called the Cereal Killer Cafe). But time has changed, people changed our menu has changed we have started doing things we have never done before. You gotta move with the time, you got different sort of customers. We get a lovely mix of people. We get cab drivers, we get travellers people we get doctors, I get everything, I get photographers, but all sorts of lives come in and we try to treat everyone the same. So that’s I think why people like it we don’t say you are like this or like that, as long as they are good nice people I don’t care, as long as they are not rude I serve them. I don’t care if you’re black, white, Indian, whatever you are, as long as you are nice people I serve you. We treat you nice, you should treat us nice.Nevio Pellicci is part of the family running E. Pellicci on Bethnal Green Road.
Is there a need in your community that should be tackled politically?
Drugs, big drug issues but I think that is all over the place really. Lot’s of crack heads and heroin users around here. But I think that is anywhere in London. You could say housing or pull up a number of different issues. I guess one thing that I would like to see would be if they would start making the area a bit nicer. I don’t know, maybe make the area a bit nicer for all the people in the community. When I grew up here there was still many nice clothing shops and other nice places. Today you don’t get that. I mean there is lots of Sari shops around here and them little pound shops and things like that. But We would need it to be a bit nicer. The people in the area are changing so much so quickly. It would be nice to have a good men’s clothing shop here so you wouldn’t have to go to the West End or Westfield all the time whenever you need something. Like a Marks and Spencer or… you know what I mean? Just to make the high street a bit nicer. And maybe make the market a bit nicer cause on the market they all sell the same clothes or all the same fruit and vegetables. I don’t know who buys it but people must buy it. A bit more of a mix would be nice, like Broadway market. That is a great little market that is there.
We met Nevio at E. Pellicci for an interview on Bethnal Green Road.
What do you call your neighborhood in London?
Bethnal Green. I was born here, grew up here, always worked here. But now I moved out to the ‘country side’, moved out to Mile End. Do you know where Mile End is? Because Bethnal Green is just a bit too expensive. So I was lucky that I got my place a few years back when it was not as ridiculous as today with the housing prices. I live right by Mile End cemetery, yeah that is right in my back garden.
Nevio Pellicci is the grand son of the founder of family run caff E. Pellicci on Bethnal Green Road. A place which connects people and forms a small community hub.
What was your favorite encounter in here and with whom?
Mhh.. we already had many famous people in here but whom did I like best?… Well do you know Mumford and Sons, the band? Well we had one of these guys come in here, Ted. And I actually got quiet friendly with him so I would say that he is one of my favourites. I go with him for a drink every now and then. I haven’t seen him for a little while but he’s genuinely a real gentleman and a real nice guy. But we even had Tom Hardy in here filming a few month’s ago and he’s a real lovely guy. Most of them that come in here they are just normal people. They have that persona that people associate with them so people think ohh, they have played some parts in films, but they are mostly just really nice guys. You get the occasional odd one but overall they are just nice normal people.
How does it feel to carry such a heritage as you are the forth generation that’s working in this café already?
It’s an honour. It something we are so proud of, me and my sister, both my sisters actually. And everyone else who works here seems to be proud to be working here. Cause its been going on already since 1900 and it’s got such a good reputation and so much history in it. So yes I love doing my job. You have got to love doing your job, every one should. Cause if your not happy doing your job your not doing it well. So yes I love doing my job. I enjoy doing it. Sometimes, you know not every day, sometimes you think ahh I can’t really be bothered today but then you just have to get on with it. That’s a bit awkward sometimes cause you have got to be in a good mood. Because if your not, it’s not nice for the customers. So just because your in a bad mood you can’t put it onto your customers. But, that’s not too often. Most of the time I love coming to work and I really enjoy doing it. And I guess I am lucky that I love doing it.
How would you describe your restaurant?
Mhh.. friendly, family run, all home cooking, great food, great.. good service.. some might say great service. Yeah I guess for a lot of people if they come in here they feel like they are stepping into their front room. They come in, have a chat, meet some people they know. Them two guys over there have met each other in here a few years back and now their friends. So its like a real community. It’s a hub for the community.
What makes for a good restaurant?
Good food, firstly, good service. Good food and good service and there is your good restaurant.
If you would have to pick one story that happened in here over the years, which one would you tell?
I had a guy in here once. Say no names. But he used to come in here with his wife and the kids. And then he started to bring these girl friends in here, which we can’t say nothing it’s non of our business. And then one day his wife saw his motorbike parked outside the café and came in to see him. He is with the girlfriend and she’s straight up clamped the girlfriend in here, in a packed out café, just chinned her. Then he took them both outside and he got some himself there. So it is a good story but then its not really a good story cause he’s cheated on her, but what to say. It’s all finished now. He’s got someone else, she’s got someone else. So everybody is happy. But yeah, at the time it was a bit crazy. There is plenty more stories but that was a pretty unusual one.
Whoever you may be, we are certain that you have experienced this before; you are sitting in a café, restaurant or bakery and witness perfection. That is an individual that seems to be on constant cruise mode. Whatever he or she does seems to happen out of a gut feeling, an intuition. Should you ever happen to enter ‘Pellicci’s’ at Bethnal Green Road you are going to meet Nevio. Or it may be fair to say that he is going to meet you. You will be introduced to his ‘living room and kitchen’, his family and community. He is one of the people that are exactly in the right place, at the right time, doing what he loves. Running the family business that has been around since 1900 he not only carries a huge heritage but also a magnitude of stories. We got the chance to meet him for the Minks’ 11th interview; and this is it. Get to know Nevio Pellicci a bit closer this September on The-Minks.
What is your full name?
Nevio Mario Pellicci
Who are you?
I am … a café worker. My family runs a café and my mum is the boss. So I am just a worker (smiles).
What does this mean to you?
I love it. I grew up in it. I have always been around here. It’s a big part of my life the café. So we would come every night after school. Me, my two sisters and my mum and dad, my cousin Tony and a couple of people who worked here and we would have dinner here every night after the café was closed and then we would go home together. So I was always around here. It used to be different years ago. We did not have the big kitchen like this and we only had the little front room. So yes it has always been a big part of our life. If we weren’t at home we would be at the café. There was always something to do either at home or here. So I would say that I have grown up in here really.
1. What is your favourite word? Sheer.
2. What’s your least favourite word? Greed.
3. What’s your favourite colour? Brown.
4. What colour or material would be suitable to describe you as a person? Red velvet.
5. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? Wide open spaces and big skies.
6. What turns you off? Greed, ignorance, rudeness, Injustice, people being bullied, as for places: litter, people just leaving a mess not picking things up not having respect.
7. What is your favourite curse word? Shit.
8. What sound or noise do you love? Oh this is so cheesy. This is gonna sound really cheesy, but I love the bagpipes.
9. What sound or noise do you hate? Running your fingers down a black board.
10. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? All I ever wanted to be was a journalist or a writer I think that’s still within me.
11. What profession would you not like to do? A banker.
12. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? Nice to see you.Mhairi Weir, thanks a lot for your time and inspiring thoughts on community and the potential of open spaces!
Where and how will you be living in twenty years from now?
I will be living in the Isle of Skye in a house that my husband and I have built not built ourselves but we have designed and we will have a little bed and breakfast and a small holding where we can just be kicking back and relax. Mhairi Weir manages the Spitalfields City Farm in the heart of East London.
What was a miracle you’ve encountered in your life?
Giving birth to my two children. Nothing will ever, ever beat that. They were the best two moments in my life and that was just a complete miracle.
Mhairi Weir is the manager of Spitalfields City Farm and has a big passion for community work.
Do you feel more Scottish, British, European or citizen of the world?
I feel Scottish and then I would say European. I think I struggle a bit with British. Oh yes and citizen of the world that makes me sound quite grand. Ha-ha
Mhairi Weir is managing the Spitalfields City Farm.
Britain and the EU, to stay or to go?
To Stay. We are stronger in the EU and diversity works. There is always someone who’s gonna fall out. But we are always stronger than when we are apart and I think to be European and to come all together again it comes back to my thing about community and about sharing and about recognising its differences and learning from that. I don’t want us to go back to a splendid isolation.Mhairi Weir is the manager of Spitalfields City Farm. When trying to look for a gift for your lovely partner or a good friend the farm can be a good find also to meet interesting people.
What do you dislike about London?
The litter! The litter on Bricklane. The fried chicken shops. You can always tell when you’re back in London, when you see the fried chicken shops. OH I just hate them they are horrible. Sometimes litter can seemingly turn into sculptures. But we agree with manager of Spitalfields City Farm, that people should just pick up after themselves and not deliberately destroy Santander bikes or free table tennis tables.
What do you love about London?
Oh I think London is the best city in the world. I really do and I never thought I’d say that. London is so cosmopolitan with a huge diversity; it’s just so unique. You can really be yourself in London. Equally you can lose yourself in London too. I can understand it can be a lonely place as well. I love the fact that you have so many different choices and so many things you can go to and there is a lot of stuff that is free. Great transport links. Fantastic transport links.
Mhairi Weir is the manager of Spitalfields Cityfarm. The Cityfarm is the green connecting patch between Shoreditch, Bethnal Green, Stepney Green and Aldgate East.
How is it to work with a lot of volunteers?
Challenging. Very challenging. Working with people in general is challenging. But a lot of volunteers have very special issues, poor mental health, poor physical health, drug and alcohol misuse, and equally you have somebody coming in who’s retired or looking for a change in career or taking a break. So you’ve got all these people mixing together, so that’s not without it’s issues. There’s difficulties with working with vulnerable adults and children and so you’ve got all the usual health and safety assessments policies and such to have in place. As long as you are valuing what your volunteers do and you don’t end up exploiting. But what will happen is that volunteers say “I want to come here every single day and I want to farm every day.” And I say “just come for an afternoon, come for a morning and build up slowly. You’ve got to enjoy it, this is not your work you don’t get paid and it starts to become a chore if you give too much time to it. So that works better. It’s easier to add on to something than to take away. Because then what happens if they feel the impact of working five days they would probably never come back.
Challenges come even down to language.
There is no two days the same and that’s exciting. Yes I love it.Mhairi Weir is the manager of Spitalfields Cityfarm. We met her here in her tree house ;).
If you would have to point out a specific need in your community or in this community what would it be and how would you go about changing it?
A specific need. It’s quite difficult to narrow it down to specifics. I’m gonna use a lot of buzz words now, but I think it’s about community cohesion, it’s about bringing people together and it’s important to have places to have space, where that can happen. And I would like to think that people are enablers to bring people together, who work with the community, who work with the people from a bottom up approach, rather than telling people what to do.
Finances are always a big thing, but it doesn’t always need a lot. It’s about bringing like-minded people together. So having a place like the farm and having more places like that and where people can come around and all come on an equal footing.
On one side of it we got people from Shoreditch who have quite large disposable incomes and then on the other side you have Whitechapel and Stepney where there is a great deal of poverty. The farm is kind of in that middle point where people can come together and it doesn’t matter how much or how little money you got. It’s about people enjoying farming and sharing events. So it’s about bringing people together for that and you need spaces, more spaces like that. And I think outdoor spaces are hugely important. It’s a bit scary going in a building or a community centre which brings people together as well, but a farm is much more open, it’s easier to walk into a farm or a park and feeling a bit invisible to a certain extent without being pressurised so to build up your confidence first. So I think a lot more open spaces is what is needed.
We met Mhairi Weir amidst animals on the Spitalfields City Farm for an interview.