The queue at The Breakfast Club


Would you queue for breakfast with a side of irony? Of course not. Neither would Stephen Unwin

They do it in the snow too. Seriously.

They do it in the snow too. Seriously.

I was playing a game the other day with my nearest and cheeriest and it’s called “Things That Make You A Moron”, though if I really gave it some thought it’d probably be called “Things That Maketh The Moron” because that makes a prettier acronym.

The list, which grew longer than this piece of string, was eventually whittled down to a pithy ten. Without giving them all away – there’s a whole six-minute feature on The One Show going begging – it includes carrying an M&M’s World bag and drinking Red Bull on the morning commute. And people who put platitudes-in-fonts on Facebook.

It was tough competition, I can tell you, but after hours and minutes of deliberation it was decided, with a whole load of unanimous, that the ultimate signifier of moron-ness in London’s Glittering West End was the queue at The Breakfast Club.

For those not au fait with this bastion of mediocrity, with its façade the colour of an actual M&M’s World bag, it’s a café over on Soho’s D’Arblay Street. (There are other outposts across London including Hoxton and Islington, which they probably call “outposts”.) And it likes to bang on about the Eighties.

the ultimate signifier of moron-ness in London’s Glittering West End was the queue at The Breakfast Club

Ah, nostalgia. I remember brainstorming during a “conference” – which is industry speak for wasting everyone’s time – at a women’s glossy I worked at years ago and it was decided that “Nostalgia” would be next issue’s theme. It was all the rage, everyone was doing it, Sarah Jessica Parker was even shagging it.

Then in 2005 some 80s kids built it and BOY London did they come!

They came to sit in a living John Hughes mood board, where Polaroids of staff prove that you really don’t have to be crazy to work here but it helps, and waitresses with all the latest tattoos barely serve American-British-whatever breakfasts. Eggs, pancakes, or When Haloumi Met Salad Wrap. (I know. I once had my hair done at Cutz Above and even they’re cringing right now.) It segues into lunch and dinner, incidentally, which must be a relief for those currently at the back of the queue.

Ah, that queue. On weekends it’s the sort of thing that would make the early-evening news in Northern Britain. And it is not relative to the experience that awaits, unless you get off on deflation.

And we’re not talking this getting-tired old trend of restaurants not taking reservations. That’s a whole other kettle of rude that all the right people, and some people who are no one at all, have been moaning about recently even though it’s been working my reserve nerve ever since Russell Norman perfected it way back Polpo, then rubbed it in with Spuntino and Mishkin’s. But queuing up for dizzying Truffled Egg Toast is one thing; queuing for mediocrity is quite another box of crazy.

But can’t you just imagine the chatter in that queue? All that talk of Twerking and FitFlops, hair and make-up, ketchup or HP? It must be like the round table at The Algonquin. No wonder people walk past in awe, swat away those flies then join the throng, mouths not quite as closed as one would like. Shall I preheat the oven, kids, or would you just like to jump right in?

There is only one place in the world I’ll queue without resentment, and that’s Horse Meat Disco, and that’s because it’s a nightclub and you can drink in the queue – ergo you’re drunk. And friends and lovers come of that. And your average chat-up line ain’t gonna be “Here, kitty kitty!”

I’ve got places to see, people to do, and unless it’s Concorde at the end of that line you’ll find me somewhere else entirely having fun. And besides, this picture of those morons queuing to get into The Breakfast Club won’t Tweet itself! C


Stephen Unwin is a Soho-based journalist and editor