These Café Owners Are Serving Socially Distanced Coffee Out of London’s Iconic Phone Booths

updated Jun 12, 2020
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telephone booth in london with big ben in the background
Credit: ZGPhotography/

They’d only opened their coffee shop, Amar Café, for a week when the coronavirus pandemic hit London, forcing them to shut down for six weeks. But owners Loreinis Hernandez and Sean Rafferty got creative, figuring out a way to serve up drinks and snacks while maintaining social distancing, converting three of London’s iconic phone booths into mini to-go kiosk cafés for Londoners in need of a caffeine fix during lockdown.

As lockdown restrictions begin to ease, coffee lovers have surely loved visiting the couple’s three phone booth locations and enjoying their specially picked Colombian beans. With two locations in the posh village of Chiswick and one in the city’s buzzy Greenwich Market Village, Hernandez and Rafferty have managed to transform the famous red phone booths into fully functioning coffee shops. They told Lonely Planet that they worked to remove graffiti and broken glass to make the revamped spaces, something they’d dreamed of since meeting in 2017 and discovering their mutual passion for coffee.

“We believe that our business model is the safest way for people to feel a bit of normality in these times,” Hernandez said. “The community has been very welcoming and we are so grateful for their immense support. At the beginning [customers] tried our coffees as a novelty thing, and to support our enterprise but after that they kept coming back because of the quality of our coffees.”

The couple told Reuters that they’d always planned to be a to-go shop, and that model has actually been more convenient due to lingering concerns over coronavirus and a potential second wave of infections. “It might be better now for us because people would prefer to be outside, sitting in the park,” said Rafferty.