Breathe the atmosphere of pre-war Warsaw in Café Fogg

Michał Fogg, photo:

Last week we followed in the footsteps, and coffee cups, of Kafka and co, into the cafes of Prague. This week Michal Kubicki of Polish Radio's External Service reckons he can go one better in the atmospheric cafe competition. He takes us to a newly-opened cafe in which you can breathe the atmosphere of pre-war Warsaw. The name of the place is, rather appropriately, Cafe Fogg. But as Michal reports it has nothing to do with mist.

The café is dedicated to Mieczysław Fogg - one of the most popular Polish 20th-century singers. He started his career well before World War Two and performed almost until his death in 1990, at the age of 89. He gave more than 16 thousand concerts, not only in Poland but in many European countries, the United States, Canada, Australia, Brasil and Israel.

During World War Two, he sang in the few cafes available to Poles under German occupation and after the war opened up his own cafe, the first such venue in the destroyed city. It was very soon closed down by the communists. After sixty years Cafe Fogg opened again. It’s run by the singer’s great grandson – Michał Fogg. He showed me round the place.

‘We decided to show the supreme from the whole collection of Mieczyslaw’s posters and adverts starting from 1938 and ending in 1986, plus the trophies such as his gold records, some of his prizes. We also have his historical tuxedo and some of his family pictures.’

Michał Fogg sees himself as the guardian of his great grandfather’s memory:

‘I was over 15 when he died. I remember him as a warm and cheerful great grandfather. I always called him grandfather and my father called him Miecio. It’s our duty to keep his name alive. It’ll be very hard for Poles to forget who Mieczysław Fogg was. I’m some kind of a guard who makes sure that people will remember my great grandfather.’

The heyday of Mieczysław Fogg’s popularity was several decades ago. Yet the Café attracts also young people…

‘We don’t need to know a lot about Mieczyslaw Fogg. We all heard his songs from our grandmothers at home. We just know his music and it’s a kind of trend now, retro kind oft things. It’s very trendy to have music, fashion and events in a retro setting. It’s now most attractive and fashionable.’

Cafe Fogg is located close to Warsaw’s Old Town quarter, a stone’s throw from the National Theatre and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. For those who’d like to cook up an atmosphere of days gone by it’s a place not to be missed.