Soho Italian delicatessen

Soho’s “last original Italian delicatessen” has garnered an outpouring of support from residents after it was threatened with closure.

Over 2,500 residents have signed a petition to save I Camisa & Son, after its freeholder, Shaftesbury, indicated it wished to raise rent to pre pandemic levels. The deli says that trade is still down from what it was before Covid.

Camisa, one of Soho’s last remaining Italian delicatessens, has served the community continuously at 61 Old Compton Street since 1961, although its history dates back to 1929, when the two Camisa brothers, Ennio and Isidoro, opened “London’s first real Italian food store”, a few doors down at No 66.

However the original premises closed after the Camisa brothers, along with many other Italian immigrants, were detained and held in camps during the war.

In 1948 the brothers reopened their business on nearby Berwick Street. Thirteen years later, they parted company and Isidoro left to open his own shop at its current location on Old Compton Street. The business is now owned by Italian importer Alivini.

Without a buyer, the current owners are set to close Camisa after Christmas.

As of Tuesday morning, 2,666 people have signed the petition to council leader Adam Hug, which calls for discussions between the deil, the local authority, and Shaftesbury.

The deli also featured on an episode of Stanley Tucci’s Searching for Italy in May.

The Soho Italian delicatessen’s landlord, Shaftesbury Ltd, has a portfolio across the West End valued at £3.2 billion, and posted a net property income of over £80 million in its year end results – an increase of 28% on last year.

Shaftesbury has yet to respond to any requests for comment.

Main image: Tim Lord.

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