Step into the red and gold themed Mazzei Cafe and it’s easy to imagine it as the setting for a movie scene, with its ornate plasterwork, golden drapes and mirrors surrounding banquette seats and tables dotted around a beautiful baby grand piano.
Especially since its original interior was designed by Andrew Mazzei, the French-born British film set designer who worked on both Hollywood movie sets and many of the Winter Gardens interiors.
The traditional cafe is situated just off the Floral Hall, and has a stylish but relaxed atmosphere reminiscent of decadent days gone by. This room has previously been seen under a few different guises. The space once lay within the former Bank Hey House, which was built on an elevated site in 1846 looking out towards the sea. Then it is thought to have been used as a Grill Room when the Winter Gardens opened in 1878.
It was during the 1931 refurbishments that came into its own as the Floral Hall lounge bar, housing the old Renaissance Restaurant. The drapes were originally painted in pearlescent pink with a gold trim, and the hall featured an octagonal bar which had elegant glass panels decorated with hand-painted birds and landscapes.
The hall’s interior was panelled over in the 1980s to make way for an amusement arcade, however in 2011 Blackpool Council had the panelling removed, and miraculously the decorated plasterwork and mirrors were uncovered virtually intact. The hall was restored, repainted – and renamed in honour of Andrew Mazzei.
Mazzei was born in Le Havre in 1887. His family moved to London in 1891, then to Italy, Brighton and Manchester before settling in Blackpool by 1901. At this time Andrew’s father contributed plasterwork to Frank Matcham’s designs for the Tower Ballroom.
He continued to live in Blackpool after his marriage to Alice Fairclough in 1912, and career-wise followed in his father’s footsteps, helping to reconstruct his work on the Tower Ballroom after a fire in 1956.
Well-known locally for his designs in local theatrical venues, and for his breath-taking work on the Winter Gardens’ Spanish Suite and Olympia Exhibition Hall, Mazzei worked on over 60 films, beginning with the silent movies of the 1920s and including the acclaimed 1932 British train thriller Rome Express. He is also reported to have contributed decorative plasterwork to the Coronation Exhibition of George V.
It is therefore a fitting tribute to the talented designer and his unforgettable creations that the Mazzei Cafe sits at the heart of the Winter Gardens.
The cafe serves light lunches, afternoon tea and snacks including paninis, home-made cakes and sandwiches. Afternoon tea is available if booked in advance on 01253 629600 or by emailing [email protected]tergardensblackpool.co.uk