Alt-J band member opens café in London Fields

Gus Unger-Hamilton in the middle at Dandy Café
Photo Credit: DandyCaf Instagram

A member of Mercury Prize-winning band Alt-J has transformed a yard of shipping containers into a café called Dandy in London Fields.

Gus Unger-Hamilton, Alt-J’s vocalist and keyboardist, said: “We want this café to be like a home away from home. We want the food and wine to remind people why they love those things.

“I always wanted to be a chef growing up, I didn’t want to be a musician initially.”

Mr Unger-Hamilton admitted that the abundance of new cafés contributed to the gentrification of the area, but emphasised the positive aspects of their impact.

“I think having places with good food, maybe slightly more than you would pay for, is better than having locals threatened by gang violence and avoiding the park because they do not want to be mugged.

“Before we transformed the café, there was no roof, nothing; only shipping containers and rubbish. It was an amazing opportunity to put in some really hard work and get a space that would otherwise be very expensive.”

Mr Unger-Hamilton stressed that, unlike many property developers, he had a strong personal connection with the area.

“I used to live very close to this cafe, just across from Mare Street, so me and my mates would hang out in Broadway Market. I think this street in particular – Helmsley Place is great, there used to be nothing but scrap metal yards, and now there are a couple of other places opening up with us. We are lucky to be early adopters.”

He said his bandmates reacted well to the new venture.

“They are really pleased; [lead singer] Joe likes to do a lot of music outside the band, mostly production and collaborations so I am quite excited to have my own thing going on outside the main event in my life.”

Would he consider playing their music in the café?

“It hasn’t crossed my mind, but if things get desperate in our careers, we may have to resort to that.”