Protest against Churchill-themed coffee shop backfires as online reviews boost Blighty UK cafe to top 20 on TripAdvisor

Protests against a pair of Churchill-themed cafes have backfired after the publicity propelled it to the top 20 London cafes on TripAdvisor.

Nine students stormed the coffee shop Blighty UK in Finsbury Park last week, accusing owners of “colonialism” and chanting “Churchill was racist”.

However a glut of new five-star reviews on the travel website over the past few days have boosted the cafe’s profile and it now sits at 17 of 1,180 coffee and tea spots in the capital.

Reviewers posted encouraging remarks referencing Winston Churchill such as: “If you’re going through hell, keep going!”

One man wrote a pointed post defying the protestors, writing: “The Churchill full English is the stuff the empires are built on. Do your part and come down to the Blighty and support this fine establishment. Hurrah!!”

The cafe has a Winston Churchill theme (Facebook/Blighty UK Cafe)

Previously, negative posts written by people angry about alleged colonial overtones of the cafe, which has a sister branch in Tottenham, had dragged it down to the 300s in the rankings.

The cafe also had to remove a mural of the wartime hero after repeated vandalism.

It had boasted a striking street art mural of Churchill’s two-fingers pose alongside the slogan “double shot”, claiming that he was ordering a double espresso.

But the painting had to be scrapped after vandals repeatedly defaced the design by spraying abuse including “scum”, “warmonger” and “imperialist”.

In an online petition, the protestors claimed the cafes “insensitively evoke memory of the Empire”, writing: ‘We understand that many see the Commonwealth as a celebration of a group of countries but it has little to do with cafes. 

“While Blighty does make a point of sourcing its coffee from countries in the Commonwealth, we feel its framing of the Commonwealth is an outdated concept using its history in a light-hearted ‘fancy-dress’ manner.

Winston Churchill-themed cafe in north London forced to remove mural

“We would like to step in now and ask them to adjust their brand whilst there’s still only two branches.”

The term Blighty was first used by soldiers in the Indian army as a corruption of the Hindi word “bilāyat”, meaning foreign land.

Co-owner Chris Evans, who styles himself as Horatio Bevans, grandson of a wartime fighter pilot, defended his cafes’ themes and said that the vandalism of the mural and a petition against his chain had been an “unnecessary headache” while trying to expand.

He said: “We never imagined that Churchill or Gandhi would attract complaints. We thought they were both widely liked and admired figures.

After that Churchill mural, maybe it’s best to stick to a normal caff

“After all, Darkest Hour cinema audiences are giving standing ovations to Churchill’s ‘We shall fight on the beaches’ speech. 

“The Churchill mural was just a bit of fun with the idea that he had two fingers up ordering a double espresso. It is simply silly to say we are celebrating British imperialism.

“We are just an independent cafe chain put together by people who work hard to make it happen and people seem to want to bring politics into it to try and drag us down.

“All we are doing is celebrating a true British hero in Churchill and the ties between Britain and Commonwealth countries.”

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