‘There are no more East Enders’: 120-year-old pie and mash shop closes

PUBLISHED: 16:35 06 January 2020 | UPDATED: 16:36 06 January 2020

Bob Cooke at the now-closed pie and mash shop in Broadway Market. Picture: Joe Goodman

Bob Cooke at the now-closed pie and mash shop in Broadway Market. Picture: Joe Goodman

Joe Goodman

Broadway Market’s F Cooke has closed its doors after 120 years serving pie, mash and jellied eels to the East End.

Bob Cooke. Picture: Joe GoodmanBob Cooke. Picture: Joe Goodman

F Cooke had been serving the same menu since it was opened in 1900, said owner Bob Cooke, but after years of declining business its doors closed for the last time on Christmas Eve.

"I want to stay here but the people aren't here anymore. There's no more East Enders anymore", said Grace Cooke, who ran the shop with her husband.

The first F Cooke was opened in 1862 by Bob's great-grandfather, Robert, off Shoreditch High Street.

The Broadway Market shop opened in 1900, and Bob's brother, Joe, continues to run F Cooke on Hoxton Street.

According to Bob, the Broadway Market shop was the oldest pie and mash outlet in London.

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"It's put my children in school and we've gone on lovely holidays and it's all thanks to the shop, but Bob's had enough and we have our grandchildren and also we want to live our life", said Grace.

"Last Saturday it was packed out there but we said we're not going to do it, we're not going to open it anymore. But I felt guilty not opening the shop."

Grace first met Bob when she took a job washing dishes for Bob's mother. They raised three children in the apartment above the shop when Bob took over F Cooke in the 1970s.

The shop is Grade-II listed, meaning its distinctive interior is protected. It has featured in a number of television and film shoots, and Bob and Grace have met stars including Barbara Windsor and John Altam, who played Nasty Nick on EastEnders.

A gaslight behind the counter is a reminder of the three-day-week in the 1970s, when commercial businesses were prohibited from using electricity for two-days a week.

After selling the shop, Bob and Grace plan to move closer to their daughter who runs an F Cooke pie and mash shop in Romford.

"Bob used to have a pie and mash every single day", said Grace. "These are the first two days he hasn't had a pie and mash since I've known him."

Bob said: "I wouldn't go and eat a pie and mash somewhere else - maybe my daughter's but nowhere else."

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