After working almost every day for nearly 50 years Tony Stylianou is finally hanging up his oven gloves.
Caledonian Cafe on Westgate has become a Huddersfield institution since Tony’s father Andreas opened it in 1969.
And very little about Caledonian Cafe has changed. The wood panelled walls, vinyl benches and even the Chinese pictures from when the premises was previously a Chinese restaurant are still there.
Since he was nine Tony, now 58, has been satisfying the appetites of Huddersfield folk.
His wife Clare joined the team in 1980. The couple have three children who will be staying in Huddersfield and Halifax after Tony and Clare leave for Cyprus.
As Tony proudly declares, the cafe is a ‘1970s time capsule’.
He says: “When people come here they think they are back in the 1970s. It’s an escape. You feel 20 years old when you’re in here even if you’re 70-odd.”
It’s clear that Caledonian Cafe’s disregard for decor change has been the key to its success. Any of its loyal customers – many of whom will dearly miss the cafe when it closes tonight (Wednesday Feb 21) – will tell you that.
Caledonian Cafe’s longest standing customer is 95-year-old Joan Fawcett who has been enjoying the fare at the venue since it opened in 1969.
“It’s like being at home”, says Joan with a tear in her eye.
Christine and Alan Balmforth from Marsh are relatively new customers having eaten at Caledonian Cafe for six years. But they too feel Huddersfield is about to lose a piece of history.
Christine, 70, says: “They’re so friendly and we always have a natter.”
Alan, 69, adds: “It’s everything a Yorkshireman could wish for; cheap and cheerful.
“If we find somewhere else to go it still won’t be the same.”
- What are your memories of Caledonian Cafe? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Tony says he’s really going to miss the job, despite barely taking a day off since he took over the cafe full-time in 1987.
“They’re not my customers – they’re my friends,” he said. “The job is like being at home - it’s a second home.
“I might have been a bit ill sometimes but you just do it. It’s like saying to your kids: ‘I’m not looking after you today because I’m ill.’ You can’t do that.”
Tony, who was born in Britain, will be returning to his family’s estate in Cyprus to make olive oil.
While he won’t miss the Yorkshire weather he will miss his customers.
Tony says: “Everyone here is on first name terms. Some of them have got married and had grandchildren through meeting in here.”
But why the name ‘Caledonian’ – meaning ‘Scottish’ – if the cafe was run by a Cypriot family serving English food?
Clare says: “I think Andreas liked the name ‘Caledonian’. There’s a spring in Cyprus called Caledonian Falls so it could be something to do with that.”