The dunks ‘True To Your Crew’ story reigns supreme over the sneaker world. With Nikes Dunk range continuously growing with new colourways, materials, designs, retros. You name it, it’s happened. Each bringing a story of their own.
For this latest rendition Nike have brought back the original shape that the dunk once came in. Dressed in an acid washed styled upper, these Dunk 85 retros are a serious show stopper.
Celebrating the launch of the Nike Dunk 85. We wanted to showcase a story that many in Soho may recognise. We met up with the father & son duo, Brian and Sean owners of Soho Joe and Cookhouse Joe. Spending some time with them we wanted to find out more about the family business and how they found themselves tidied up in the world of hospitality.
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Footpatrol: Guys, welcome! After spending most of my lunches here it’s nice to sit down and have a chat properly! How are you both doing?
Soho Joe (Brian) : We are good thank you!
FP: You are both well known faces in the Soho area. How did you find yourselves in the hospitality industry?
Soho Joe (Brian) : Living in South Ken. Cafe Nero was new, we looked at what they were doing and how they were operating. We used to go in there to buy coffees and croissants and just decided we could do this much better! So we opened our first place in South Kensington.
Cookhouse Joe (Sean) : For me. I have grown up all my life around parents in the catering industry. It inspired me to open my own restaurant and have been here ever since!
FP: Have you always been big foodies?
Soho Joe (Brian) : We’ve always been into food!
Cookhouse Joe (Sean) : My mums a really good cook!
Soho Joe (Brian) : A master cook!
Cookhouse Joe (Sean) : She has a Maltese background and makes loads of Mediterranean food. We have just grown up having these great family dinners. We just love food to be honest with you.
FP: Is mum the instigator for what goes on the menus then in that case?
Cookhouse Joe (Sean) : I would say she probably gets the final say definitely haha!
FP: Is that the same at Soho Joes?
Soho Joe (Brian) : YEP!
FP: What encouraged you guys to have a father/son lead joint business?
Cookhouse Joe (Sean) : It evolved naturally. I have always helped out in my mum and dad’s restaurant. It felt like there was a natural progression for me to go and open my own place. It’s been good though! Being closer to mum and dad is nice as they have always given me loads of support, helped me get set up and guided me through the process of running my own place.
FP: What’s it like having your son jump on board the family business? Must be quite a nice feeling.
Soho Joe (Brian) : It’s awful……. I only joke, it’s great!
FP: And are you both happy with how it’s been going? I know just before we did the interview you mentioned this was only meant to be a 2 year venture and it’s been close to what 9 years now?
Soho Joe (Brian) : Yeah it has been really good! I must admit though, Covid has marred it a little bit.
FP: Well hopefully that won’t be the case going forward and it all picks up properly again.
One thing I always noticed is that you both are incredibly talkative and involved with your customers. How important is that to you guys?
Soho Joe (Brian) : Yeah I mean we are just social people anyway. Some customers the other day said they went to a restaurant in Brewer Street, they mentioned that the food was great but the staff were cold and didn’t bring them a good overall experience. We don’t do it for those reasons so much, but being naturally social people we just want to talk to everyone and anyone doesn’t matter if they’re a customer or not a customer. We will talk as much to a bin man as we would a customer.
Cookhouse Joe (Sean) : I think Soho, although it is in the centre of London, does have a real community. You can walk down the street and wave to 10 people that you know just on Berwick. It’s just nice that everyone knows everyone and creates that almost village atmosphere.
Soho Joe (Brian) : Here’s a story for you. There’s a chap who lives in an enormous and probably the most expensive house in Soho. A big agent knocked on his door and said to him we got someone that would like to buy your house off you. He said to me that he thought about it for about 10mins, thinking about maybe buying a Lordship of the Manor in the Cotswolds. I said to him, you are already Lord of the Manor in Soho! Who do you know in the Cotswolds, this is your village. – I think that says it all really about the area.
FP: Did he keep the house in the end?
Soho Joe (Brian) : He is still there now!
FP: What about this then. Do you guys ever have any friendly competition with business or is it more to do with supporting each other?
Soho Joe (Brian) : No, it’s different.
Cookhouse Joe (Sean) : Nothing. It’s more the support as it’s a whole family thing. My two brothers, my sister who lives in Madrid still help out from time to time on online stuff and my mum does as much as we do.
FP: How did you piece together the menus?
Cookhouse Joe (Sean) : We used to live just off Edgware road, so I grew up eating at all of those Lebanese restaurants. Through that we knew the chef Habibi, who makes all the chilli sauce, garlic sauce, houmous, falafel and all that using his family recipes. We actually got our rotisserie oven from the London Olympic village! They were selling all their equipment.
Soho Joe (Brian) : There’s a good story about the one that came before that.
Cookhouse Joe (Sean) : Haha yeah! So we actually used to have two rotisseries. One was so big and when we switched it on as a tester to cook some chickens, it completely melted the ceiling and you can still see it there now! But yeah just through knowing Habibi that helped guide the direction in what the menu was going to be. It’s changed a lot over time, things have been added and taken off as we have found out what people like and don’t like.
FP: What about the business names, how did you come up with both Cookhouse and Soho Joes?
Soho Joe (Brian) : We had about 20 or 30 names to start. Between us we thought about which would be the best fit. Soho Joes really stuck with us off the back of the 1950s record by Andy Williams – ‘ The House of Bamboo’. It’s almost become a mini brand, I see our stickers all over the place. It wasn’t the initial plan but that’s how it panned out.
Cookhouse Joe (Sean) : We really just wanted to keep the link. Soho Joe being the first one, we wanted to make sure people knew it was the same brand and same family. Cookhouse is just another word for Kitchen and there are already 3 of those in London!
FP: Let’s run through some burning quick fire questions then!
Who’s the better cook between you two?
Cookhouse Joe (Sean) : Me.
Soho Joe (Brian) : *points at son*
FP: Best thing on the menu?
Soho Joe (Brian) : We got a Buffolina pizza that everybody raves about!
Cookhouse Joe (Sean) : Halloumi Wrap is probably the most popular thing we do.
FP: Who’s got the best chefs?
Soho Joe (Brian) : That is a difficult one. In Cookhouse, you have Habibi who is such a supreme and an icon Lebanese chef. In Soho Joe at the moment, in the 20 years I have been doing this, the pizzas have never been this good before.
Cookhouse Joe (Sean) : Yeah the chef in Soho Joe as the moment is the best they have ever had. Whilst Habibi has been with me here since forever! We get people coming in saying the Garlic sauce is like no other!
Soho Joe (Brian) : Habibi is his second father haha!
FP: Choice of drink with a meal?
Soho Joe (Brian) : I am a man of simpler taste, just a beer.
Cookhouse Joe (Sean) : I would say a Negroni.
FP: Thank you so much for letting us come by and talk to you both. It’s been amazing to hear about the backstories you guys have! Before we let you go, is there anything you would like to share with any of the Footpatrol readers and followers?
Cookhouse Joe (Sean) : Anything else you wanna say dad?
Soho Joe (Brian) : The day is made much easier wearing Nike trainers!