Leith cafe Up the Junction goes on sale

Helen Larkin is leaving Up The Junction. Picture: Andrew O'Brien
Helen Larkin is leaving Up The Junction. Picture: Andrew O'Brien
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A GREAT-grandmother will serve her last bacon buttie after her cafe – described as a “Leith institution” – was put up for sale.

Generations of residents have stopped for a cuppa at Up the Junction, in Great Junction Street, but after 35 years of getting up at 4.30am, 71-year-old Helen Larkin has decided to hang up her apron.

Mrs Larkin, who leaves her home in Livingston at 5am each day to whip up all the homemade dishes from scratch, said: “It was a difficult decision to make. I’m going to miss my customers as they are like family.”

But she is looking forward to spending time with her husband Michael and her daughters, as well as her seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Mrs Larkin added: “I’m going to do all the things I have had to say ‘no’ to in the past because I am getting up early for work in the morning.”

The family-run eaterie has become a meeting place for the community, according to her daughter Shirley Graham.

The 52-year-old said: “My mum’s had the cafe for 35 years and she is absolutely a big part of the community.

“She’s an original Leither, we were all born and bred there. It’s just a Leith institution.

“She didn’t want to give it up, but it is the early morning starts which are just getting too much.”

Shirley and her sisters Dione, 49, and Angela, 53, all worked as Saturday girls in the cafe, and many of their children have helped their grandmother.

“My mum’s been in it from the start and it’s been family run though out,” she said.

“It’s just a meeting place for the community.

“We have all the locals who come in for a cup of tea in the morning and she is worried about everyone.”

Shirley, who now lives in Spain, added: “She’s just an amazing person and everyone who comes into the cafe can see that.”

Regulars have taken to social media to express their sadness at the cafe’s closure.

Derek ‘Baz’ Brash wrote: “When I first had a bacon egg decker, all those years ago, I had no idea that Up The Junction would become such an important and joyful part of my life.

“This news is a bit like a bereavement.

“But the memories, the laughs and the wonderful friendships will last forever.”

And Nicky Hall posted on Facebook: “All the best Helen – you’re a legend in sunny Leith.

“You deserve to be up there in Leith Walk aside [famous ex-Port of Leith landlady] Mary Moriarty.”

Up the Junction went up for sale on Tuesday and no date has been set yet for its closure.