Grabbing some food on market day © Sean O'Connor
Eating & drinkingLocal

Cafe life on the Roman: photo essay of Fiesta Cafe

Local photographer Sean O’Connor captures the buzz of a typical East End, market cafe, Fiesta Cafe. 

The idea of an ‘East End cafe’ conjures up a specific image – a family-owned business with unpretentious interiors serving large portions of familiar foods to predominantly local customers. This type of working person’s ‘caf’ is as inherent to the East End identity as jellied eels and rhyming slang. 

Local photographer Sean O’Connor captured the market day buzz of one of our favourite cafs on the Roman, Fiesta Cafe.  Situated opposite Mono London cafe, where Ewart Place intersects with the high street, Fiesta Cafe is in the middle of the Roman Road Market action.

It is also noteworthy for being the most spacious cafe on the Roman. Its large plate-glass windows overlooking the market provide a perfect place for a spot of people watching over a mug of tea and a full English. 

O’Connor goes behind and in front of the till, showing the camaraderie between the Dag family, who run the cafe. Brothers Mehmet (23) and Ibrahim (27) Dag are very much the face of their business, picking up the mantle after their father, Huseyin, bought the cafe in 2012 from its previous owner. 

Like many people in the East End, they originally came from elsewhere; the Dags settled in Hackney in 2008, having moved there from Turkey.  But Fiesta follows the long-lasting traditions of East End cafes. You will see coworkers Jackie and Songul serving up a selection of hearty ‘caf’ foods:  English breakfasts, sandwiches and their most popular item – lasagne. 

These everyday scenes of Fiesta Cafe, against a backdrop of Roman Road Market glimpsed through the windows, capture a quintisentially British tradition.

Father and son owners, Fiesta Cafe on Roman Road, East London
Huseyin, Ibrahim and Mehmet © Sean O’Connor
Waitress next to coffee machine, Fiesta Cafe on Roman Road, East London
Coffee © Sean O’Connor
Hovis soft white, Fiesta Cafe on Roman Road, East London
Soft white © Sean O’Connor
Plating up an English fry up, Fiesta Cafe on Roman Road, East London
Ding ding © Sean O’Connor
Frying sausages, Fiesta Cafe on Roman Road, East London
Sizzle © Sean O’Connor
Served with a smile © Sean O’Connor
Shopfront, Fiesta Cafe on Roman Road, East London
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner © Sean O’Connor
Brothers Ibrahim and Mehmet Dag, Fiesta Cafe on Roman Road, East London
Brothers Ibrahim and Mehmet © Sean O’Connor
Mehmet © Sean O’Connor
One of the waiters, Fiesta Cafe on Roman Road, East London
Hey © Sean O’Connor
Serving in a busy restaurant, Fiesta Cafe on Roman Road, East London
Songul © Sean O’Connor
Ibrahim and Mehmet Dag standing outside Fiesta Cafe on Roman Road
Ibraham (left) and Mehmet (right) © Sean O’Connor

If you like this, you might like to check out a photo essay of Cafe East or read about G. Kelly’s pie legacy. 

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