On a bright corner of Mare Street, a pink and green clad coffee spot/bar/all day hangout has cropped up in all its light and airy glory. This is Diddy’s - ran by Diddy herself (great name) - the newest addition to Hackney’s eating and drinking scene.
With a handful of tables, a scattering of orange classroom-type chairs and a healthy collection of plants, Diddy’s is by day peaceful, and by night a little rowdier - partly fuelled by the reasonably-priced Negronis and otherwise fuelled by the fun, friendly, collaborative vibe that Diddy’s encourages. Case in point: we met Diddy on a sunny Friday morning when she was in the middle of cleaning the floorboards - there was a 30th birthday party the night before, so things were feeling more than a little sticky. You get the idea.
Diddy’s aim is simple: “I wanted to open a relaxed neighbourhood place with a strong sense of community and affordable prices where you felt valued as a patron and could have a night out without feeling like you’d just spent all your rent money, the type of which I felt were disappearing.”
Occupying a spot that’s away from Hackney’s main drag, there’s definitely something sanctuary-like about Diddy’s. Whether it’s the radio on in the background or the jugs of seasonal daffodils bathed in sunlight, we could see ourselves spending some serious downtime here. The tables are close together enough that you can imagine conversation sparking up between strangers - a rarity in an area so characterised by laptop-flat-white-culture.
In fact, that’s exactly the atmosphere Diddy wanted to encourage, channelling an “old school style of local cafe” she told us.
“I’m so thrilled that we already have so many regulars in such a short space of time, I love hearing what everyone does as we have so many different types of people which is exactly what I was hoping for.”
Downstairs is a basement with a projector and room for a bit of a “rave” in Diddy’s words. She’s still making up her mind what she wants to do with the space, but it will probably be something influenced by what her friends, locals and customers want. And so it should be.
After a brief spell in hospitality at nearby Bistrotheque in her early twenties, Diddy then went on to have a successful career in TV, before coming full circle back to food and drink in the form of her own place. Living locally, Diddy knows the area well and loves Hackney like the best of us.
Her favourite pastime? “I really just enjoy rolling around on my bike with no hands pretending I’m a 15 year old boy just enjoying the whole of Hackney” she said, “I love it all - the streets, canal, hidden squares, Victoria Park, and all my friends that I could bump into hiding in any of those places!”
Amen to that. We recommend you hot-foot it pronto down to Diddy’s for a coffee, a chat or a cocktail in Hackney’s friendliest new offering.
Words: Lucy Vincent
Images: Rosie Herdman for Glasshouse Journal