The Union near El Sheikh Ali was also very famous. It had a table reserved for Abdel Halim Hafez and another for Om Kalthoum. Of course, its other famous clients were Churchill and Roosevelt. Although it has now closed down, it has thankfully not been totally obliterated. It survives in the memoirs of the Irish poet Desmond O’Grady, who describes not just the place in the 1970s but the way it encapsulates the very essence of cosmopolitan Alexandria:

There can be no enmity where there is a mutually common curiosity about the history of cultures and there was certainly none between any of us who represented many of them in Alexandria. … During late autumn and winter on week nights the Union was frequented only by a meager handful of regular, respectable old men from the neighborhood, occasionally varied with the presence of an adult courting couple wishing privacy rather than quiet. Occasionally an elderly married couple, who knew the owner from their youth, might show on a holiday or weekend evening to dine and chat with the owner and the old waiter. The hospitable owner, or perhaps he was the manager for the real owner, was a stocky, mustached, well dressed Egyptian in middle age with a warm smile and gentlemanly manners. He spoke some Greek, some English and some formal French. He had one elderly waiter in a formal, black cutaway, immaculate white shirt and black bow tie. He stood tall and slender with a refined face, fit for a museum, crowned with well-groomed light grey hair.

His manners were immaculate, his poise and movements aristocratic. He reminded me of Gino the old Austro-Hungarian head waiter at Albrechts Biererria in Rome. They could have been first cousins. Dimitri was an Alexandrian Greek in his seventies. He had been a high ranking officer’s batman at Alamein and had been involved in the Greek Resistance. Except during the war, he had worked at the Union all his life despite the nationalistic movements of the 1960s when many Greeks and other foreigners left the city. He and the owner-manager had become the best of friends during the war and had remained so afterwards. Dimitri had a natural fluency of five languages – not an uncommon characteristic of the older Alexandrian generation no matter how poor their formal schooling. With his courteous welcome and attentions, his impeccable manners at table and his genuine conversation mixed with gentlemanly good humor when we chatted on arrival, while ordering and when we talked leisurely after dinner over brandies he epitomized his profession. A gentleman’s gentleman, his kind was rarely found anymore. He and I became friends and dining at his table was like dining ideally. His very comportment and gentlemanly conversation taught me much about education and manners. He had many wonderful memories of the old Alexandria, knew about Cavafy, Forster and Durrell and had served Winston Churchill and Roosevelt in the Union when they were in the city for a meeting. … I shall never forget the Union and the gentlemanly Dimitri. (My Alexandria, pp. 60-61)