Bobby, Yeha Noha Café and Bar (South Drawood exhibition)
- Year Invented: 2018
Yeha Noha Café and Bar opened in South Norwood in 2012; Yeha Noha means ‘wishes of happiness and prosperity’. The owner, locally known as Bobby and self-proclaimed ‘Godfather of the community’, is proud to be one of the longest running community cafés in South Norwood. He calls the café a ‘community hub’ and a ‘place for everyone’. Every customer is welcome whether it’s for a coffee, a sit-down meal or a round of drinks. The café even won Best Café in Croydon in 2016.
Bobby has been living in South Norwood for over twenty years. After working in the City in the hospitality and management industry, he decided to start his own venture with his wife. Bobby spent time researching areas to open his business, looking at Crystal Palace and Croydon but decided to settle in South Norwood. He saw potential in the area and wanted to create ‘something for everyone’.
Bobby loves the diversity of the area and the spirit which South Norwood has. Every time a new business opens in the area he likes to go and welcome the newcomers, not seeing them as competition but instead part of building a community. In the coming years he hopes to see more restaurants and innovation in the area. Bobby even has plans to open another business himself in South Norwood, so watch this space.
This project was part of the South Drawood exhibition in 2022 by artist Jonny Kemp. A community art project celebrating the people of South Norwood, SE25.
From autumn of 2021 to summer 2022, Jonny drew 40 portraits of independent business owners, volunteers, and other movers and shakers from South Norwood, his local area. His partner Lizzie interviewed them.
South Norwood is regenerating yet doesn’t want to gentrify: it wants to keep its character and support people who already live in the area to prosper. This was Jonny and Lizzie’s way of ‘giving South Norwood a hug’: by representing the diverse people of SE25 through portraits in fine liner pen, and their own stories.
The portraits were displayed in Stanley Arts, a beautiful Edwardian arts venue on South Norwood Hill. Over 150 people attended the opening night: Friday 29th July 2022.
Words by Elizabeth Walters
Interview with Bobby, Owner of Yeha Noha Café and Bar, October 2021