Barga family trading for 5 generations in Scotland

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Trading for five generations – Joe Cardosi, was born in 1885 in Barga, Tuscany, Italy, and moved to Caithness, Scotland  in 1910. Together with his brother he had the Bay Café in Swanson Street, Thurso.

In the 1930s Joe took over what is now Caffe Cardosi. Joe’s son, Andrew, came back to Scotland after the Second World War and worked alongside his father in the café.

Andrew had two sons – Richard and Raymond – and a daughter, Anne. Richard and Raymond ran the businesses as they are seen in the town centre today. They went on to buy the whole building which at the time was Hepworths drapery store.

Richard developed the Central Bar upstairs while Raymond carried on the tradition of the café.

Another section of the building was bought from Hepworths in 1982 and developed into Top Joe’s.

Richard’s son, Brian, took on the mantle of running the businesses in more recent times while Brian’s sister, Anita, and Richard’s wife, Dora, handled the kitchen.

Brian has now handed on the family businesses to his cousin – Anne’s son – Scott Youngson.

Scott Shearer (25), who manages the Central, is Anita’s son and marks the fifth generation of the Cardosi family to be involved in the Thurso café and bar trade.

In honour of his parents, Mr Youngson named the takeover company PHD Barga. PHD stands for Peterhead, where his father came from, and Barga represents his mother Anne’s Italian heritage relating to Joe Cardosi’s home town.


A THURSO bar owner is keeping a long-standing family connection alive with his latest business venture.

Scott Youngson, who runs the Comm, has bought the Central Bar and Hotel, Top Joe’s and Caffe Cardosi from his cousin, Brian Cardosi.

The purchase marks a huge step forward for Mr Youngson – but it is more than just business for the 43-year-old.

It is about maintaining a long line of family tradition which dates back to the heydays of mass Italian migration into Scotland before the First World War when the Cardosi family set out from Tuscany to establish what would be a lasting legacy in the Far North.

Mr Youngson is the great grandson of Joe Cardosi who opened Caffe Cardosi and inspired the name Top Joe’s.

He is very much looking forward to the challenge of updating his family’s booming businesses which have been a central part of Thurso for five generations. “It’s a new challenge and a great way to start the new year,” Mr Youngson told the John O’Groat Journal.

“I’m looking forward to it and I’m really proud to be carrying on the Cardosi family connection.”

The Central Hotel was put up for sale along with popular town-centre bar Top Joe’s and Caffe Cardosi at the start of the year.

“Some of the businesses have been in our family since the 1930s,” explained Mr Youngson.

“The places weren’t being sold and, at first, I didn’t really have any interest. But then I thought it would be nice to keep them in the family. So I looked into it and saw that it was feasible to do and I went for it. I’m over the moon to keep it going to the fifth generation.”

The fifth generation is represented by Mr Youngson’s cousin’s son, Scott Shearer, who manages the Central.

Mr Youngson took charge yesterday and said he has already put some plans in place which could see big changes to Thurso’s nightlife.

“The main changes are going to be upstairs to the Central Bar,” he said. “After the fire in March there was no kitchen and it ceased to trade as the business it was. My intentions are to run it as a function suite specifically targeting parties and anniversaries, and even wedding dances.

“It’s a huge change but I think the potential is there to do it as it’s a big space.”

Mr Youngson believed there is a gap in the market for a central function hall in the town and claimed it would be a refreshing change for the premises.

“I’m quite excited at the prospect of doing something different with it,” he said. “The Central Bar has got to be taken somewhere it’s never been before as the Cardosi family did so much with it in so many different ways.”

The new owner said Top Joe’s is unlikely to see any big changes as he is delighted with the way it runs at the moment.

“It’s a fantastic bar and has a fantastic set of customers that I’d like to keep happy,” said Mr Youngson. “It very much takes care of itself.” He added: “The café trades pretty well but there might be a few changes there.”

The 12 rooms that form the Central Hotel are to be refurbished to bring them up to as modern a standard as possible. Mr Youngson said he has faith the commitment will pay off.

“It’s a fair investment but I think it will be worth it,” he said. “The town is buoyant at the moment and there is still a lot of business coming in.”

Mr Youngson praised the staff members who work in the premises and the rest of his family who have worked hard over the years to grow the businesses.

He said his late father, Jimmy Youngson, was a key inspiration on taking on the properties.

“I wouldn’t be anywhere without my father’s help and he’s the inspiration behind this latest move.”


More information about the Cardosi story in Scotland can be found on this wonderfully informed blog here:

‘Joe’ Cardosi, who died in 1964, arrived – I think – before the Great War from Barga, near the femoral head of Italy, and the same town as the father of Giovanni Moscardini. His various scions have inter-married with other Caithness residents so much that, even after 17 years since arriving here, I am not going to attempt to lay out the genealogy.

His business ventures involved, what else?, ice-cream parlours and coffee houses and confectionary, delighting children of all ages (on much of the West Coast of Scotland, ice-cream vans are still known with affection as “tally vans”). It was either Howard Jacobson or Anthony Julius (one of those mensch’s mensches, anyway) who, in a comedy lament, remarked that the arrival of large-scale Italian immigration was a mortal blow to British Jews who found themselves competing for the best-looking olive-skinned exotic foreigner who served coffee and sweeties.
Joe was accompanied by a fellow townsman, Pieraccini: although this name has slipped out the local electoral roll, Pieraccinis remain on the outskirts of the Hyperborean North in Inverness and Tain.

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