Search

First dates and celebrity guests - is this Norwich's longest running restaurant?

PUBLISHED: 06:30 15 September 2019 | UPDATED: 14:27 15 September 2019

Mandy Tufts and Luis Jardim enjoy hearing customer's stories at Captain America's. Picture: Ruth Lawes

Mandy Tufts and Luis Jardim enjoy hearing customer's stories at Captain America's. Picture: Ruth Lawes

Archant

From Norwich market, there was a bustle of excitement and the low drum of chatter as people stood - for three hours - in a queue.

Captain America's shop front - can you guess which year? Picture: ArchantCaptain America's shop front - can you guess which year? Picture: Archant

It was 1972 - the year Abba formed, the birth of David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust and the last time people walked on the moon.

But in Norwich, people were waiting for a bite of the city's first American-style burger at Captain America's.

Mike Howell at Captain America's. He set up the business aged just 21, but died in a car crash. Photo: Supplied by owners of Captain America'sMike Howell at Captain America's. He set up the business aged just 21, but died in a car crash. Photo: Supplied by owners of Captain America's

Still nestled on Exchange Street, and up a flight a stairs, Captain America's is thought to be Norwich's longest running restaurant, and little has changed since its early days.

Luis Jardim, 31, its manager, said: "The restaurant is exactly the same. The only thing that has changed is that the juke box has gone.

Captain America's is thought to be one of the longest-running Norwich restaurants. Photo: Supplied by ownersCaptain America's is thought to be one of the longest-running Norwich restaurants. Photo: Supplied by owners

"Even the menu is pretty much identical - except you can't get a hamburger for 80p anymore."

He said the best part about the job is hearing customer's memories - so here are a handful.

- First dates

"As Captain America's was one of the few Norwich restaurants and one of the only ones that was affordable, it was one of the main places for first dates.

"It also helped that we had a bar. So people would come here for a drinks… And then forget to eat.

"I have customers who come in for nostalgia and to relieve their young love. Some are married and come back with their children."

- Births

"There was a woman who came here years ago with her husband. As she was eating a burger - and I can't say if the two were linked - her waters broke and she got rushed to hospital.

"A few months ago she returned, this time not pregnant, but with her son, who sort of started his life here."

- Celebrity guests

"Years ago, one of our regulars were the Team Lotus mechanics who were often to be found celebrating their winning streaks.

"It got particularly raucous in October 1972 when [racing driver] Emerson Fittipaldi surprised everybody and took the F1 championship.

"Famous actors who were performing at the Theatre Royal used to come here all the time as we had long opening hours. They would head here straight after curtain call."

- Fast food

"Captain America's was the first American restaurant in Norwich and we bought 100pc hamburgers, spare ribs and ice cream sundaes - a taste of the states!

"We were also the first UK restaurant to sell Duck sparkling wine and imported American beers. We also had our own label wine at one point."

When the restaurant was opened by then 21-year-old Mike Howell, dining options in the city were limited and American food was something of novelty.

Mr Howell had been inspired by a burger bar in London, but died in a car crash just four years after achieving his dream.

The restaurant was then taken over by his brother-in-law, Mr Persinger, from North Carolina, who kept the restaurant as a much-loved time capsule to rock-and-roll America.

And the new owners, a band of four brothers, who took over the restaurant three years ago when Mr Persinger retired, still vow to keep Captain America's legacy alive - albeit with a slightly new menu.

Chris Williams, the owner, from North Walsham, said: "It's just stuck in a brilliant time warp and it's such a unique business.

"No one wants it to change, as it still holds a lot of memories for people, but we're adding a few things to the menu like vegan ribs."

Do you have any memories of Captain America's? Email ruth.lawes@archant.co.uk

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists

Most Read

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the Evening News
digital edition

Subscribe

Newsletter Sign Up

Norwich Evening News daily newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most Read

Latest from the Norwich Evening News

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists