Sitting next to a urinal while having a cup of top-quality coffee sounds like something any Englishman would turn their nose up at. But Pete Tomlinson and Ben Russell thought it would be an excellent idea. When they saw the ‘to rent’ sign for an underground Victorian toilet, they saw the opportunity to create something new on the London coffee scene.
The Attendant opened last month, after a good industrial cleaning and restoration of the public toilets. But instead of erasing all memories of the previous use for the space, Tomlinson and Russell chose to venerate it, keeping all the 1890s Doulton & Co. urinals in tact as ornamentation for the coffee house. The urinals, which shined up quite nicely, are used as dividers for seats and above the banquette sits the original Victorian hand dryer.
Sitting on Foley Street in posh Fitzrovia, the cafe, though below ground, is not hard to miss. They maintain the original iron-wrought work that used to signal a quick sign of relief for those in need. Now, Londoners – both male and female – can head down the steps to have high quality, carefully sourced food and drink and chat amongst the urinals. While that is against normal gents’ room etiquette, at The Attendant, the rules have changed.
See the transformation below: