Today is a pretty special occasion for KC Continental owner Leo Giordani, 82. Why? He’s celebrating running his grocery stores, KC Continental, for a whopping 50 years.
It goes without saying that the last five decades have seen massive upheaval in the area. The current spate of regeneration can be traced to the 1980s, when cheap rents and a central location were attractive to artists. By the 1990s King’s Cross was the epicentre of London’s clubbing scene, which we have marked with stories in our sister title Kentishtowner.co.uk.
Fast forward to the 2007 multi-million pound restoration of St Pancras International, the creation of Granary Square in 2012, and rebooted King’s Cross station last year – and it’s even more impressive that the grocery shop has reached its golden anniversary.
“The area has all changed, though,” Leo, originally from central Italy, says. “Many of my customers have left – or are now dead.”
But he insists it’s not all doom and gloom: “Italians round here used to come in and buy a whole salami – and now they’ll buy just a slice. Yet I get a constant stream of them, and so many customers also say, please don’t update anything.”
Step inside the shop, on the lower slopes of the Caledonian Road, and you can see why: dusty bottles of wine crowd the shelves with dozens of olive oils; boxes of panettone jostle with pyramids of Italian fizzy drinks; a well-stacked cool counter heaves with pecorino, parmesan, and salame Milano, and huge Parma hams sway from the ceiling at the rear.
This afternoon the mayors of Camden and Islington visit the shop to give Leo a civic award. Let’s hope the prosecco flows. 26 Caledonian Rd N1 9DU