The 2i’s Coffee Bar, also known as the “Home of the Stars”, was a mecca to budding pop stars in England between 1956 and 1970. It has often been defined as the birthplace of British rock’n’roll. It was actually a small (about 30 feet by 10 feet) basement cellar club under an Expresso Coffee Shop at 59 Old Compton Street, Soho, London.
Old Compton Street was bounded by Wardour Street to the west, Charing Cross Road to the east, near Piccadilly Circus.
The origins of the 2 Is Club’s name are connected to the former managers of the place, 2 brothers, Freddie & Sammy Irani.
The venue was first run by two australian wrestlers Paul “Dr Death” Lincoln and Ray “Rebel” Hunter, then Tom Littlewood since 1958.
During the day, the Coffee Bar was specialising in cappuccinos of course, but also meals such as goulash, toasted cheese, sesame seed rolls and coca-cola, while at night drab and dusty basement echoed to the sound of skiffle then later Rock’n’Roll.
Most of the customers of the 2is were working class: storemen, packers, sheet metal apprentices, cabin boys, messengers boys… then came impressarios, managers and records company men who spotted artists to sign.
Most of first British Rock’n’Roll stars were spotted there such as Tommy Steele, Marty Wilde, Vince Eager, Terry Dene, Adam Faith, Cliff Richard, The Shadows, Vince Taylor, Wee Willie Harris, Screaming Lord Sutch and many others.
Now the place is became a restaurant with toilets and a lobby area in the cellar, where the 2i’s club was. There is just a Green Plaque, commemorating the existence of the most important venue in the early days of British Rock scene, and that was unveiled at its site since September 2006.