2 Nov 2020

New Developments in the Case of E. Mono on Kentish Town Road

E. Mono, Kentish Town Road (2020)

In 2015 I wrote about a revealed fading fascia that was adopted as the name of a kebab shop on Kentish Town Road. Not only that, but they went as far as using the lettering on the sign to brand their greaseproof paper used to package takeaway food. Subsequent new branches have also maintained this branding, including those in Finsbury Park, Holloway, Mornington Crescent and, slightly further afield, Luton. (These haven’t been faithful to the details of the lettering, but it’s the thought that counts.)

Over the weekend just gone I was giving a talk about ghost signs to the annual ATypI conference (online this year) and revisited a number of stories such as this one to see if there had been any new developments. The nature of the original business still remains a mystery, but its dating to the 1920s appears to have been more or less verified. There were however two further noteworthy additions to the story of E. Mono…

First is that an expansion of the original Kentish Town business into the premises next door revealed a second identical fascia which was then kept alongside the first reveal. From what I can make out this happened in around 2015 or 2016, and the owners’ reverence for the signs appears to have held firm.

c.2017

Secondly, at some point in 2019 a decision was taken to install a new sign, straddling the entire width of both shops, and covering the two original pieces. While this acknowledges the originals there are, as with other branches, inconsistencies in the reproduction of the lettering.

What surprises me most about this second development is the thought process required to instigate it. The shop has clearly enjoyed a great deal of success since first opening, and won plaudits for both its food and the decision to keep the old signs in place. Their brand has been built from the identity of this historic feature of their original premises, and yet they have decided to obliterate this from view in favour of a huge modern sign that fails to differentiate them from any other fast food outlet on the high street.

The only saving grace is that (hopefully) the originals remain beneath, protected from further fading, and time capsuled ahead of some future discovery…

PS. E. Mono’s signs have been documented artistically by The Secret Artist NW5, both old and new,

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2015
“E. Mono, For Value”
Branded greaseproof paper
E. Mono, Luton (Photo: Keith Hayward)
E. Mono, Luton (Photo: Keith Hayward)