King's Cross Voices

Memories (Chris Chrysafi)

Chris’ father, Peter Chrysafi, came to London from Cyprus in 1936. He founded a well-known café in London’s Petticoat Lane, and Chris came over to join him in 1947 at the age of 10 years old. Having served his apprenticeship in the East End, Chris opened his own sandwich bar, Chris’s Deli Diner on King’s Cross Road, and then the St Pancras Fish Bar. Following the redevelopment of St Pancras Station, Chris moved on to the short-lived Platform 12, until being offered a site in the former Milk Dock at King’s Cross Station serving construction workers at King’s Cross and St Pancras. The Milk Dock Canteen closed in 2007. He was interviewed in 2005.

“I used to run a fish and chip shop outside St Pancras Station. When I moved in here it was just an empty shell except for the tables. I asked 'What we going to call the canteen? What's this side called?' 'The Milk Dock' - so we called it the Milk Dock Canteen, it’s a very good name.

I do the cooking and the other chap, Mehmet, he does the frying. He does the breakfasts and gets everything ready and after that it's self-service from there. There are five of us altogether. We've got three girls, myself and Mehmet. We've got one Greek and two Polish girls. Mehmet is Turkish, and myself, I'm Greek-Cypriot.

‘I'm down here at 6 o'clock in the morning and at 7 o'clock we are fully open and if anyone comes before, as long as I'm here and he wants tea or coffee, then I'll make it for him ... no problem … mainly they have breakfasts. They come in the morning at 10 o'clock and most of those people have fry-ups ... breakfasts and at lunchtime you do another 20 or 30 meals for instance but then you've got your sandwiches and your rolls ... big rolls, small ones and different sizes of breads and that continues all the time until you finish more or less.  Good prices too. The only outsiders we get are the Police. We get a few of them coming in, nobody else is allowed to come in - they won't let the general public come through for security reasons.”

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