Frozen in time: The Langside Cafe

The Langside Cafe in Glasgow which has remained unchanged for over 50 years. Photo:SWNS
The Langside Cafe in Glasgow which has remained unchanged for over 50 years. Photo:SWNS

These nostalgic photos show the inside of a historic cafe which is still open but has not changed – in 50 years.

Langside Cafe in Southside, Glasgow, first opened in 1920 and from the 1960s was run by an Italian family.

Today it is still exactly the same inside – including the vinyl booths and vintage ice cream machine.

Previous owners Domenic and Sofia Demarco put it up for sale last year – on the condition that nothing was changed.

Sofia’s father Americo Rosso is pictured on the wall of the cafe with his daughter in a pram, in 1963, in a framed black-and-white photograph.

Even the vintage ice cream machine is part of the fabric of the cafe, with the pipes running under the floorboards.

Dogs are welcome at the low-key cafe, and even sit in the vinyl booths happily eating homemade ice creams in cones, along with their owners.

New owner Isabell Graham took it over determined to keep the atmosphere the same as it was when her regular customers, many of whom are elderly, courted their spouses there or bought sweets from the counter as children.

One 91-year-old pensioner even recalled first going as a five-year-old girl.

Isabell said: “People come in and tell me stories about the owner from 1968.

“We’ve got lots of customers who have come in since childhood, and now their children and grandchildren visit.

“It is an institution in the community. The ice cream machine is 50 years old, it takes about 20 minutes. The former owner, Sofia, grew up in this cafe – there are pictures on the wall of her as a baby.

“Her father came over from Italy and couldn’t speak English, so you can imagine how important the cafe is to her.

“It was important to the family that whoever took it on did it with respect.

“They wouldn’t sell to anyone who was going to change it – it was important to them to keep it alive.

“I was a wee bit nervous being the new owner, but everything has settled down.

“The majority of the customers we know by name.”

Although she grew up in Southside, Isabell had never visited the cafe until she decided to buy it – and is joined each morning by her Springer Spaniel, Poppy.

Isabell added: “I think it was the heritage and the history that it stood for which attracted me.

“It is 98 years old, and nothing much has changed. It has just got such a nice feel about it. It is very retro – it is like a step back in time.

“There are places which open up of every style in Glasgow, but to have a piece of history is completely different.

“You can’t just open it tomorrow. The glass jars used to be in the window, but we moved them inside as some of the sweets were going soft in the sun.”

The cafe only accepts cash but has made some concessions to modernity, with a website and Facebook page.

The unpretentious menu includes items such as “ordinary, old-fashioned” French toast – as well as cakes beneath glass bell jars, and a fish supper is served with a cup of tea, bread and peas.

Visit Langside Cafe to view our special video.