A historical site about early London coffee houses and taverns and will also link to my current pub history site and also the London street directory
In old Bucklersbury, before the construction of Queen Victoria Street, and when it led from Charlotte Row, Mansion House, into the Poultry, in one unbroken line, one of the first of the modern style of restaurant dining-rooms was started by a Mr. Ferdinand Izant, and it was exceedingly well conducted. The charges were moderate, and everything was of excellent quality, well cooked, and served in a manner much in advance of the general run of " eating-houses " of that time.
Izant's soon won favour, and was crowded every day, with the result of a fortune to the Izants, both father and son. The proprietors and waiters all wore clean holland blouses, fresh and clean every morning. Mr. Izant, junior, a tall, good-looking man, with abundant fair whiskers, perambulated the dining-room, collecting the money, and especially taking the " penny ' for waiter, which he carefully put into a separate pocket.
As the business prospered, the style of the younger Izant advanced, until some time before retiring, which he did when the premises were purchased and pulled down to make way for Queen Victoria Street, he was wont to drive to Bucklersbury in his phaeton and pair to don the holland blouse. I have more than once met him in irreproachable evening dress at the Old Opera in the " forties."
A restaurant bar of quite the modern style, and called the Gresham, now represents what was once Izant's.
There is another dining-room establishment in Holborn, near to Chancery Lane, that still has "Izant's" over the door. It was established many years ago, during the run of the original Izant's in Bucklersbury, but I know not if there was ever any real connection between the two places.
Izant's was really the precursor of the modern dining-rooms now existing in the city. Lake's and others soon followed in Gracechurch Street, Cheapside, and other places. It was in some way in connection with one of the businesses owned by Mr. Lake, that Mr. Gordon, of the Gordon Hotels and the Holborn Restaurant, obtained his first insight into the very profitable nature of providing good meat and drink and first-class accommodation.
The 1843 directory lists Frederick Izant at dining rooms, at 21 Bucklersbury (this address is later the Gresham); and Rober Izant at the Blue Anchor, 92 York street at this time, previously at the Barley Mow, 210 Upper Thames street. In 1856 and 1861 census we have Samuel Izant at the Britannia, 291 High Holborn, previously at the White Swan, 26 White street, Cripplegate ;
Lots of references are made to two sources on the
Edward Callows, Old London Taverns &
John Timbs, Club life of London Volume 2