OPENING FEBRUARY 2020
“On the Western Front an estaminet was not a pub. Neither was it a café or a restaurant. It had some of the qualities of all three. It was never large and was found only in villages and very minor towns. It had low ceilings, an open iron stove; it was warm and fuggy; it had wooden benches and table. It sold wine, cognac and thin beer, as well as coffee, soup, eggs and chips and omelettes.
The proprietress (a proprietor was unthinkable) had a daughter or two, or nieces, or younger sisters who served at table and made no objection to tobacco smoke and ribald choruses in English and pidgin French. No doubt some estaminets overcharged but in general they provided for the soldier off duty behind the line many a happy hour. The name had a magical quality in 1914-19 – and still has for those who survive.”
Dictionary of Tommie’s Songs and Slang (John Brophy and Eric Partridge, 1930)