Thursday 7 May 2015

My review of the new Back to the Future themed Café 80s in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent

     It wouldn’t take a genius to notice a soft spot for the 1980s running through my blogs, from name dropping Molly Ringwald to coveting the wardrobe of Christine Cagney. In particular I am a sucker for a fabulous 1980s film, full of big hair and blue eyeshadow, the world pre-hair straighteners looks like a more fun, expressive place, especially in American movies (Gregory’s Girl is fun but not quite as glamorous as Overboard for example). And as every 80s film fan knows there is one trilogy that has stolen the hearts of a generation – Back to the Future.
Is two boxsets enough?

     There’s a running joke in my house if we haven’t watched them for a few weeks, the films are nearly always on ITV2 so we’ll quite often flick through and find them by accident, and happily rewatch with as much enthusiasm as if it’s the first time we’ve seen a flying DeLorean or neon trim steam train. The second film is my favourite, as a child I loved imagining what the future would be like, and even now I’m waiting for my Black & Decker hydrator to arrive so I can make giant Pizza Hut branded meals at the touch of a button.
     So it was with a touch of mild hysteria that I spotted a news article on Twitter saying that a Back to the Future themed café had opened in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent. The new Café 80s was also extra exciting as it recreated a part of my favourite film, the ‘retro’ Cafe where Marty McFly senior defeats Griff on behalf of his weedy, unconscious son. Normally trendy replica restaurants are kept for London’s elite hipsters, but here was a BTTF themed restaurant opened only a short drive away from my house – I had to go.
     Luckily my other half is just as obsessed with BTTF as I am so it was a no brainer to go ASAP and we agreed on the following Saturday, donning our finest 80s tribute BTTF and Teenwolf t-shirts. Which is how we came to be battling down the rainy and ridiculously windy streets of Stoke-on-Trent last Saturday morning, looking out for the Café 80s – and it wasn’t hard to spot. The location was a stroke of genius for a start, right on the corner it mimics the Café 80s from the second film perfectly, even with the doors in the right position, there was also a Pepsi Perfect sign hanging in the window so we knew we hadn’t got lost.
     Once inside we were pleased to find plenty of seating and tables, which had been a worry of mine – all style and no practical substance, but this clearly wasn’t the case. Starving hungry we ordered a grilled cheese sandwich each and a cappuccino before wandering around and enjoying taking in all the little details that make the Café 80s something special. There are two exercise bikes in the corner, ensuring my partner kept barking “Keep peddling you two!” into my face in the style of Griff. There are working arcade machines, a checkerboard floor, a Hoverboard, and a fax machine declaring ‘YOU’RE FIRED’ just like when Marty gets stung by Needles (the creep).
What a way to lose your job, on the toilet
"Keep peddling you two!"

The American diner furniture throughout

     We loved wandering round taking photos and soaking in the nostalgia. As expected there was 80s music in full flow courtesy of two flatscreen TVs showing old music videos. I think part of the charm was that this obviously wasn’t created by a company wanting to exploit that this year is 2015, the year the second film is set. It’s clear lots of the equipment is second hand – charity shops and eBay must have been lovingly trawled for props – and the effort pays off. It feels like a loving tribute to a fantastic trilogy, not a soulless recreation: it’s got heart.
The head of MJ in the distance
The magic newspapers that 'erase' as time is rewritten
     When the food arrived it was plain the menu had been devised with an American diner in mind. We could have had burgers, hot dogs or an ice cream sundae but for breakfast we were pleased with a grilled cheese sandwich. Like a toastie but cooked on the griddle the sandwich was a little greasy but very tasty and one was definitely enough [N.B. I've since been informed the griddle was broken that day and our sandwiches were done in a frying pan, hence they weren't as crisp as normal]. It also came with a little dish of tomato soup to dip, which definitely helped to cut through what could have been a slightly too rich meal. The coffee was instant but very welcome and served in an 80s themed mug, not a tiny cup. All in all we were very happy with our breakfast, it definitely seemed like a ‘greasy spoon’ meal rather than an artisan café but I assure you there is nothing wrong with that, good food cooked simply and charged fairly is always alright by me! The food was clearly prepared from scratch and cooked on the premises, which is more than many ‘upmarket’ chain cafés can say.
The burgers look epic

The cafe also sells booze!

     It was with slight reluctance that we left this charming themed café to continue our shopping trip in Hanley (i.e. go to Primark and Abakhan). We will definitely be back again…in fact, we already have! Battling back to our car once we’d finished shopping we nipped in later in the afternoon for a pot of tea and bowl of chips. As before the chips were fresh from the fryer, cooked to order, and our tea came with plastic spoons and served in one of those big metal teapots that will burn you if you open the lid incorrectly – no pretention, just good, honest food.
It's the details that make the place seem authentic

The theme extends to the toilet facilities!

     So if you’re a fan of Back to the Future this should be an essential place for you to visit, but even if you’re not it’s worth taking a detour from the main shopping centre to enjoy a cuppa and a bite to eat somewhere that’s not a chain café. There's ample seating, good access for those with limited mobility or a pushchair, and accessible toilet facilities. So go on, treat yourself to a meal with a bit more style – you won’t regret it. 
All blog content and photos are Copyright of Charisse Sayers Proofreader & Copywriter I welcome all feedback and would love to know your thoughts so please get in touch, comment, share, like and generally get involved – you can also find me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!

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