North London Cafe | Mario's Cafe

Current Exhibition

A Small Exhibition Of Small Moments

By Mark Coombs


My father was a talented professional artist and a picture framer and so from an early age I drew, painted and made things. I would spend hours sitting next to my dad, painting or drawing while he did the same, and I gained my love of art from him. If I wasn’t drawing I would be in my dad's workshop, cutting up card and making things; usually vehicles for my Action Man. I left school with the absolute minimum qualifications to get into St. Albans College of Art to study design on a BTEC course but after three years I realised I wasn’t really very interested in advertising or coming up with new designs for shampoo bottles so after a few years I applied to Bath College of Higher Education to study a degree in Fine Art.

My connection with the area

My dad was a great story teller and would recount many Christmases he’d spent in Kentish Town, or working at the Road Motor Department, and his many near misses during the height of the Blitz. I was born and grew up in St. Albans and for me; Kentish Town was just a place I passed through on the way to the centre of London where everything happened. A great friend moved here in 2005 and that was the first time I had actually got off the train here and was also the first time I went to Mario’s Cafe.

I moved here five years ago and it gradually dawned on me that these were the streets and places in my dad's anecdotes. In the first couple of years of moving here I walked the length and breadth of Kentish Town; all the time knowing that I was walking in the footsteps of my dad as a young man. I couldn’t have been happier about this and to know that I had a real connection with this unassuming place that I had ignored for years.

I began to feel more at home here than I had anywhere else in London and I still love walking around the area today, (for anyone who likes bricks, Anglers Lane is one of the best roads you could walk down). Most of the work in this exhibition has come about from things I have seen or almost seen while walking the streets of Kentish Town.


Mobile: 07858 156 173

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Past Exhibitions

Artists who have previously exhibited at Marios Cafe....

Jo Hodges
Aya Tokita
Richard Jolly
Lisa Hurcum and Hugh Davies
Harry Deansway
Amanda Critchlow
Tom Hogan
Jason Gormley
Dorelle Morgan
Lisa Scott
Jeremy Cooper
Kenneth Toby John Wotherspoon
William Leach
Sonia Lenzi / Gerry Badger
Eddie King
Gareth Halliday
Bettina Schroeder


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