Big September frontman heads Village Vanguard diner in 2012’s East Village

Village Vanguard

Village Vanguard - Credit: Archant

Village Vanguard bills itself as a cutting edge restaurant, leading the way in entertainment – so it felt rather fitting we found the frontman of a disbanded Irish indie group running the place.

Burger and curry at Village Vanguard. Photo: Emma Bartholomew

Burger and curry at Village Vanguard. Photo: Emma Bartholomew - Credit: Archant

Scotty O’Neill, the charismatic lead singer of Big September has come to London to start a new band, and has found himself managing the East Village diner. He’d only been there for a fortnight when we rocked up - but he already had plans to introduce live bands to the bar.

“Give it two years and it’ll be heaving in here,” he told us enthusiastically. The place is already quite buzzing when we visit on a Wednesday evening.

It’s just a stone’s throw from Westfield Stratford, in the former London 2012 athlete’s village. Five years on from the Olympics there are 6,000 people living in the neighbourhood, and 25 bars, restaurants and shops.

Village Vanguard is like a modern version of the Hard Rock Café, with a totally black factory-like interior with two huge screens and an open plan kitchen. While we were waiting for our food Scotty complied with my request to play us some of his tracks, as he got us some home made fresh lemonade. “It’s very refreshing - it’s a wake up isn’t it?” he chipped in, as we tasted the zesty drink.

Mr Whippy desert at Village Vanguard. Photo: Emma Bartholomew

Mr Whippy desert at Village Vanguard. Photo: Emma Bartholomew - Credit: Archant

While my mum tried the Wednesday night special of lamb curry, my 15-year-old twin sons and I opted for burgers – mine with avocado and bacon really did the job. We were all pretty stuffed, but Scotty encouraged us to go for desert. “We’ve got Mr Whippy - that’s amazing. You’ll have one of those boys won’t you?” he said. And they did, and he was right.

“It’s all about the customer service in Ireland,” he told us as he came along to chat, after encouraging my sons to start up their own band as he had done at their age.

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