Puttin’ on the Ritz in Ardrishaig

Looking Ritzy in the 1970s

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Memories of hot orange, boyfriend advice, sweeties – and that famous jukebox – were stirred when remains of the Ritz Cafe facade were uncovered during recent refurbishment work.

The Casci family bought the Ritz Cafe on Chalmers Street, Ardrishaig, in 1957 and sold the cafe in 2007 – but what a 50 years there was in between.

It was Lindoro and Alicia Casci who opened the doors to an expectant Ardrishaig public in Easter 1957, and the couple’s granddaughter Nic McNamee told the family’s story of the cafe.

‘When Lindoro retired due to ill health, Garry and Neilina went into the business in 1970. Alice still worked and lived up above the Ritz cafe till she was in her 80s,’ Nic explained.

‘Over the years the café saw a lot of changes. In 1970 the newspaper business that was formerly Tommy Menzies was acquired. Then in the 1980s, video rental was introduced and later on game and console sales and rental. These were the halcyon days before Sky TV.’

Nic continued: ‘The cafe gave employment to a lot of local people over the 50 years of business and our family has fond memories of them all.

Garry and Neilina sold the Ritz on April 1 2007 – exactly 50 years after the Casci family opened for business.

‘My brother Anthony and I had an amazing childhood growing up in the Ritz and it gave us a great work ethic,’ said Nic.

‘I moved away to Glasgow 24 years ago, but Ardrishaig will always be home. I will alway treasure my memories of the Ritz Cafe and Ardrishaig.’

There are plenty fond memories among the cafe’s customers too.

Alma Allan recalled the cafe in the 1960s with Mr and Mrs Casci and Garry, the jukebox and drinking hot orange. ‘Happy days,’ she said.

Christine Johnston remembers the queues waiting to get in when the Cascis came from Tarbert to open the Ritz.

She said: ‘I remember hot orange and Smiths crisps and ‘Goodbye Jimmy Goodbye’, a jukebox favourite!’

Christine also revealed: ‘Mrs Casci was great at listening to boyfriend stories. She must have been bored to tears but always gave good, sound, friendly advice.

‘Mrs Casci and Annie MacKinnon ran a wee club once a week in the evening. I think it was just for girls?

‘Such happy, happy days and the selection of sweeties was great.’

What memories do you have of the Ritz? Contact the Advertiser by emailing editor@argyllshireadvertiser.co.uk with your stories and photos.