Lina Stores, Greek Street

The cliche goes that to know where you’re heading you first need to know where you’ve been. An ethos that has guided the creation of a new enterprise from one of London’s most beloved delis.

Lina Stores, Greek Street

Anyone familiar with Soho will be familiar with Lina Stores. The Italian food emporium has been proudly peddling delicacies for well over 70 years from its site on Brewer Street, and has just launched a 50-cover restaurant around the corner on Greek Street.

While the premises are as fresh as the ingredients, the look and feel of the place is wholly traditional, and directly in keeping with the original shop. That’s thanks to the incredible efforts of Lionel Real de Azua, Director at Red Deer— a collective, or, as they describe themselves, ‘herd’ of architects, friends and designers tasked with developing and realising the concept for the latest addition to the Lina family.

Lina Stores, Greek Street

With a focus on keeping things rustic without looking dated, subtly detailed while avoiding clutter, the finished product is nothing short of charming, and immediately inviting. We caught up with Azua to discuss the approach to the project, materials such as Otto Tiles  a firm renowned for using artisanal craftsmanship in order to achieve classic aesthetics— and plaster produced from coffee waste, and major obstacles involved in the work.

Lina Stores, Greek Street Photo © Mariell Lind Hansen

Lina Stores, Greek Street Photo © Mariell Lind Hansen

Restaurant, Greek Street Photo © Mariell Lind Hansen

Lina Stores, Greek Street Photo © Mariell Lind Hansen

Lina Stores, Greek Street Photo © Mariell Lind Hansen

Lina Stores, Greek Street Photo © Mariell Lind Hansen

Lina Stores, Greek Street Photo © Mariell Lind Hansen

Lina Stores, Greek Street Photo © Mariell Lind Hansen

Lina Stores, Greek Street Photo © Mariell Lind Hansen

Lina Stores, Greek Street Photo © Mariell Lind Hansen

Hi Lionel. Hope all is well. Can you give us some background on Red Deer?

“We’re a relatively small practice founded in 2013, so five years ago now. A group of architects and designers who mainly focus on commercial buildings at the moment, but with interests in working on a range of things from art installations to residential, hotels, and institutional projects. The overriding theme for what we have been doing is discovery, exploration and authenticity.”

You sound ideally suited to Lina Stores then.

“Yes, Lina Stores ended up being a perfect match in that it’s a very old Soho institution, it’s an authentic brand, and very much the type of company we want to be associated with. An institution in its own right. The original Lina Stores premises has been around for 75 years in Soho, and is an icon of the area.”

How did you approach the new restaurant design?

“It was a mix of collaboration and brief. The brief was inherited from a history of the brand. It had a certain identity, colour palette and ethos which we had to embody. Then there were a number of stakeholders involved in the design process, so it was very much a collaboration in that we respected the long standing aesthetic and feel of the brand.

“But then there was also a new typology in a restaurant when the existing business was a store. The brief really came from that history, and the collaborative effort came about in navigating the new typology.”

Lina Stores, Greek Street Photo © Mariell Lind Hansen

Lina Stores, Greek Street Photo © Mariell Lind Hansen

Tell us about the materials you used. 

“We went for quite old school, mid-century materials, harking back to the shop. So we specified a lot of brushed aluminium, chrome, essentially invoking the style of that era.

“We then installed a number of other materials to make up the floor. For example we have green and white tiles, mosaic floors, depending on what zone you’re in we like to play around with the floor. We worked closely with the company Otto Tiles for all this. The service, quality and bespoke tiles proposed were perfectly fitted with the project.”

“Then the walls are plaster, which was given an aged effect with coffee granules. So when the shop was dishing out coffee the leftovers were then mixed into the plaster as we were applying this to the walls, so that you now see a textured look to it, much like the shop.”

Lina Stores, Greek Street Photo © Mariell Lind Hansen

Lina Stores, Greek Street Photo © Mariell Lind Hansen

In some ways the mosaic flooring sounds like it would contrast the simplicity of other materials involved?

“Well, the mosaic floor is just externally, or rather on the threshold as you enter. It’s ironic as there had been a mosaic floor there before, when it was an Italian restaurant called Roma. Sadly this wouldn’t work with our brand. So we had to strip that up, we retained as many of the white marble tiles as we could and then later on included the Lina Stores inlay.” 

Finally, were there any major obstacles you faced during the project?

“Well it was a very small, typical Soho building, so we had a few issues in getting as many covers as we’d like in there, which we achieved in the end. With the floors they needed to be strengthened to support the vintage fridge we have on the ground level. It weighs such that it required additional support.” 

Lina Stores, Greek Street

Lina Stores, Greek Street

Lina Stores, Greek Street Photo © Mariell Lind Hansen

Lina Stores, Greek Street Photo © Mariell Lind Hansen


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