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The greasy spoon chronicles: a day in the life of the Hope Workers Cafe

This traditional British caff is the beating heart of its north London community The first customer of the day pushes through the door a little after 7.30am. His name is Matthew. He is thin and pale and blond, and trembling a little from the cold. Sue Anayiotou, who has owned and run this cafe with her husband Chris these past 31 years, turns at the sound of the door, checks him out and turns back to me. “Homeless. I’ll just be a minute.”Matthew asks for a fried egg sandwich. She offers him a cup of tea to go with it. He nods, gratefully. No money changes hands, because no money is required. In the window is a red and white sign, designed in the early months of the pandemic by a regular customer, which reads: “Pay it forward, donate a meal for someone who needs it”. Beneath that it says: “Free Hot Meals for anyone who cannot afford one. Just come in and ask.” Which is what Matthew has done. “Sometimes there will be one of them,” says Sue. “Sometimes six.” The customer who designed the sign also put the first £200 into the pot and it’s grown from there. It’s an appropriately dignified start to a working day at a cafe called the Hope. Continue reading…