Cafes are such a regular part of people’s lives that most people might not even realize it most of the time. However, there is a reason cafes are such inviting spaces for people, other than the mere fact that it serves coffee, the environment in a cafe is warm and friendly, whether it is to take a quick coffee break or replying to boring emails. What happens when a cafe also comes with the perks of a historic location? It certainly adds an extra flavour to the whole experience. Here are 15 cafes set in a historic building.

1. Hard Rock Café, Bangalore

The hard rock cafe in Bangalore, currently located in the heart of Bangalore, occupies a 100-year-old colonial building. The building goes down in history as The Blighty’s Tea Rooms and the salvation army. The design was largely influenced by the rugged stone architecture as well as the large internal volume; in this iconic building lies a famous hard rock cafe.

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Hard Rock Cafe – Bangalore_©Pallon Daruwala

2. New York Café, Budapest

A neo-renaissance building that was opened in 1894 was popular among writers and intellectuals; however, after the Second World War fell into disrepair from the 1950s. Only in 2006 did it return to its former glory; the opulent interiors have stood the test of time along with its spiralled marble columns.

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New York Cafe – Budapest_©Martchan – Shutterstock

3. Blue Bottle Coffee, Oakland 

The blue bottle coffee brings craft coffee to northern California, and the owner likes having each flagship have its style. The Oakland flagship is placed in an infamous morse building. The morse building built in 1921 was previously an automobile showroom. The structure, with its unique historical proportions and features, like the clerestory windows and large picturesque glass windows, was used very meticulously by the architects during renovation by keeping an open plan and highlighting the furniture with darker colours.

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Blue Bottle Coffee – Oakland_©Mariko reed
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Blue Bottle Coffee (interiors)_©Mariko Reed

4. Crew Collective & Café, Montreal

A cafe that’s located in St Jacque street in old Montreal has office spaces and houses a cafe. Once the royal bank of Canada, the building was built in 1926 with the incredible marble inlay flooring and columns along with its vaulted ceiling. The building was restored in 2016 to what it is today with minimal changes, and one that enhances what already exists and also expresses itself in a very minimalistic way.

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Crew Collective – Montreal_©Crew collective facebook

5. Ciao Cielo, Melbourne

The Ciao Cielo is a cafe located in Port Melbourne; it’s a courthouse that is now converted to a fine Italian cafe, with its large volume, arched clerestory windows. While the interior walls and tables maintain muted tones, the only pop of colour in the interiors is the blue seating all around.

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Ciao-Cielo-interior_©Jo Rittey and Libby Curran

6. Balzac’s, Toronto

The Balzac’s is a chain of cafes well known for its district distillery branch, which transformed an 1895 pumphouse that now houses a Parisian style cafe. The Vaudeville-style chandelier being the highlight, large glass windows along with its checkerboard flooring create the perfect set-up for a cup of coffee.

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Balzac – Toronto_©Roozbeh Rokni_Flickr

7. Bewley’s, Dublin

The Bewley’s started in 1840; however, the one standing here was the last of the chain in 1927; it was brought back to its glory in 2017, its housed in a dutch style building, the building has intricately designed stained glass windows by people from the various periods and is restored with a lot of eyes to detail. 

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Bewleys – Dublin (interiors_©The Irish Times
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Bewleys – Dublin_©The irish times

8. Cinnamon, Bangalore 

A building that was an orphanage set up in 1892 by a philanthropist of the time is now home to a series of small-scale boutiques with a cafe near the courtyard, the heart of the building. Elegant arches, sloped roofs with terracotta tiles, and madras terraces make this space feel like a warm hug on a rainy day.

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Cinnamon – Bangalore_©Pallon Daruwala_©Mathew and Ghosh Architects

9. Grace in Portland, Maine

The Chestnut Street Church built in 1836, one of Portland’s few surviving examples of early Gothic Revival architecture, its large stained glass windows, and stunning trusses, houses a high-end restaurant a large chunk of the church remains to exist and regularly used from pews used as banquette seating to the pulpit-turned-host stand.

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Grace – Maine_©Malone Commercial Brokers

10. The Ordinary, Charleston

The old bank building built in 1927, having a rather boring limestone and brick exterior facade, has a whole different story on the inside, with a 22-foot ceiling and the massive old vault door used very meticulously as a portal between the kitchen and the server space. The steel from the vault was used to create the bar table.

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The Ordinary – Charleston_©Andrew Thomas Lee
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The Ordinary (exterior)_©SquireFox

11. Café Le Procope, Paris 

The oldest cafe in Paris opened in 1686; with time, it became just about any ordinary cafe and eventually shut down. In the 1900s, it was restored to the glory that it is today, with its white-marble staircase, crystal chandeliers, Pompeian red walls, etc.

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Le Procope – Paris_©Jean-Marie Hullot

12. Pierre Loti Café, Istanbul 

The cafe named after the novelist and naval officer Pierre loti cafe is located on the outskirts of the city. It was opened in the 1910s but restored in 1964 to what it is today; apart from the pleasant traditional interiors with small tables, the highlight of the building is the terrace from where one can view the golden horn.

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Pierre Loti – Istanbul_©zekeriya-s-sen

13. Higher Ground, Melbourne 

A 19th-century powerhouse in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD was converted into a cafe and restaurant. The walls with exposed brickwork and concrete columns, along with their arched windows, keep the previous structure intact while the trusses were replaced with a more modern touch to it, several mezzanine floors were added for additional seating.

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Higher Ground – Melbourne_©Sean Fennessy

14. Market Lane Coffee Collins Street, Melbourne 

Market lane coffee opened its fifth location in the historic portland house; the interiors were largely influenced by Australian painter Clarice Beckett who studied at the college of art across the street from portland house; the green walls, and custom tessellated floor tiles reflect the building’s Victorian heritage. Copper fixtures were used throughout to match the building’s copper framed facade.

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Market Lane Coffee – Melbourne_©Market Lane

15. Sarnies, Bangkok

A 150-year-old former boat repair shop is now a coffee house in Bangkok; the building seems to look like a regular concrete home but houses a rustic coffee shop with its aesthetically pleasing brick exposed walls and wood furnishing.

Sarnies – Bangkok_©Sarnies instagram
References:
  1. DRINK, F., 2022. Ciao Cielo. [online] Concrete Playground. Available at: <https://concreteplayground.com/melbourne/restaurants/ciao-cielo> [Accessed 20 March 2022].
  2. DRINK, F., 2022. Market Lane Coffee Collins Street. [online] Concrete Playground. Available at: <https://concreteplayground.com/melbourne/restaurants/market-lane-coffee-collins-street> [Accessed 20 March 2022].
  3. Jensen Architects. 2022. Blue Bottle Morse Building – Jensen Architects. [online] Available at: <https://jensen-architects.com/work/blue-bottle-morse-building/> [Accessed 20 March 2022].
  4. Khoslaassociates.com. 2022. Hard Rock Café | Khosla Associates – architecture + interiors. [online] Available at: <https://www.khoslaassociates.com/project/hard-rock-cafe-bangalore/> [Accessed 20 March 2022].
  5. Lifestyle Asia Bangkok. 2022. 6 must-visit Bangkok cafes housed in historic buildings. [online] Available at: <https://www.lifestyleasia.com/bk/food-drink/dining/6-must-visit-bangkok-cafes-housed-in-historic-buildings/> [Accessed 20 March 2022].
  6. Lovefood.com. 2022. Beautiful and historic cafés around the world | lovefood.com. [online] Available at: <https://www.lovefood.com/gallerylist/69989/beautiful-and-historic-cafs-around-the-world> [Accessed 20 March 2022].
  7. Nast, C., 2022. You Won’t Believe What These Restaurants Used to Be. [online] Architectural Digest. Available at: <https://www.architecturaldigest.com/gallery/you-wont-believe-what-these-restaurants-used-to-be> [Accessed 20 March 2022].
  8. New York Café Budapest. 2022. A little bit of history – the birth of the most beautiful café in the world. [online] Available at: <https://newyorkcafe.hu/en/history-of-the-new-york-cafe-html/> [Accessed 20 March 2022].
  9. Taylor, R., Taylor, R., Taylor, R. and Ho, E., 2022. Market Lane Coffee Opens in Historic City Site. [online] Broadsheet. Available at: <https://www.broadsheet.com.au/melbourne/food-and-drink/article/market-lane-coffee-open-historic-city-site> [Accessed 20 March 2022].
  10. Urbaneer.com. 2022. Balzac’s Coffee Roasters In The Distillery District. [online] Available at: <https://urbaneer.com/blog/balzacs_coffee_roasters_in_the_distillery_district> [Accessed 20 March 2022].
Author

Flora is a student of architecture, with a passion for psychology and philosophy. She loves merging her interests and drawing parallels to solve and understand design problems. As someone that values growth, she uses writing as a medium to share her learning and perspective.

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