Bradley, Rocco Deli (South Drawood exhibition)
- Year Invented: 2018
Rocco Deli can be found in the garden of the Clifton Arms just opposite Selhurst Park stadium. Bradley, the owner, told me he had only been there three months when we met in January 2022. Originally from Southampton, he has worked in restaurants all of his life and usually worked front of house. Before taking on his own venture he worked in a restaurant in Soho, but like lots of other people, the pandemic changed his perspective. The Clifton Arms is his local, after moving to South Norwood four years ago, and as he knew Ewalina the landlady he decided it was time to start his own business.
His truck in the pub garden serves hotdogs and other snacky foods. Bradley says that people want something to go with their drinks, and notes his popularity especially on match day. It’s quite a change compared to when he always worked purely in customer service, to now both cook and also serve his customers, but he really enjoys the change.
Bradley prefers to quieter life he now leads compared to that of central London. He loves the South Norwood bubble out of the city centre and notes how lucky the residents are to have so much green space. He says South Norwood residents are very down to earth and he particularly loves meeting those who have lived and grown up in the area.
Words by Elizabeth Walters
Interview with Bradley, Owner of Rocco Deli, January 2022
Garden of The Clifton Arms, 1 Clifton Road, London SE25 6NJ
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.