Piccadilly Cafe, named after the famous thoroughfare in London’s West End, was a very popular ice cream parlour situated at No.45, Galle Road, not far from the turn to Rohini Road. It was run by Alerics Ice Cream, founded by Aleric De Silva Wimalaratna, whose trademark emblem of the word “Alerics”, in red topped with snow-white ice cream, was boldly emblazoned on the top as one entered.
The glass frontage and the side wall mirrors added to the spaciousness of the spot. The ice cream, in flavours like vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry, was served in the rear portion, which visitors could enjoy while seated at one of a dozen or so glass-topped tables. The ice creams made of ‘pure and freshly drawn cow milk’ cost only 25 cents, while the milkshakes cost 50 cents.
It was very popular with Muslims, who often used to resort to it to see a potential bride or groom. As Muslims, especially the Moors, were still conservative and did not like to directly meet a prospective partner, the families would arrange for their sons and daughters to visit Piccadilly supposedly for an ice cream; but meant to allow the bride or groom to steal a glance or two of the prospective partner, made easier with the side mirrors reflecting faces and forms. It also had a jukebox, a record player with a menu of records, into which one had to drop a coin to play a selected record such as Jim Reeves, Elvis Presley, Cliff Richard and Bill Haleys and the Platters.