TRIBUTES have been paid to one of the most popular faces in Bradford city centre business.

Paul Georgiou, who ran the Fountains café in the Oastler centre, has died at the age of 89 following a short illness.

A well-known and respected figure in the Bradford business world, Mr Georgiou ran Fountains Coffee House in John Street for just shy of 50 years alongside his wife Mary, and has run cafés and other businesses in the city for almost six decades.

Other ventures created by Mr Georgiou include the Hole in the Wall nightclub, which was one of the first underground nightclubs in the city centre.

It hosted acts including Sir Tom Jones and rockers Thin Lizzy as they rose to fame in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Other businesses Mr Georgiou ran over the years included the Metropolis in Morley Street, which is now part of the Alhambra theatre, Fiesta in Market Street, Athenium in the Kirkgate Centre, and during the 1970s the Continental Coffee Bar in Godwin Street.

His main business Fountains Coffee House is now managed by his son Michael, but when it opened it was one of the first businesses to open in the John Street Market, as the Oastler centre was known then.

Since then it has been used as a filming location for a number of television series and films, including the BBC’s Great Train Robbery which starred Jim Broadbent, and the film Funny Cow starring Maxine Peake.

Mr Georgiou’s son, Chris, 51, said his father’s death is a “massive loss” to the family and the city of Bradford.

He said: “My father was very hard working and a very loyal man.

“He put a lot of hours into his businesses in Bradford. He was an icon of Bradford.

“He always had the people of Bradford at his heart. He loved the city; it was where he grew up and all his businesses were. He was a very popular man.

“We all worked in the café from a young age and had a good grounding thanks to him.

“He wanted to see Bradford city centre get its vibrancy back, and his legacy will be keeping the café going.”

Stepping into Fountains is like going back in time, something Chris said is part of its appeal.

“We still have the 70s decor and it is quite nostalgic. It hasn’t changed since then which is what appeals to people,” he added.

“We have an established and loyal customer base who bring their families, and the film production crews like it too. I doubt there are many cafés like it left in the country anymore.”

A grandfather to seven and great-grandfather of two, Paul Georgiou marked his golden wedding anniversary with wife Mary in 2010, who ran Fountains together as a much-loved partnership.

The family lived in Northowram, with all four Georgiou children being educated in Bradford

During their youth, Michael, Chris, Christina and Jason all helped run Fountains on Saturdays while they grew up.

Michael runs Fountains, with Chris running the business side of the café, and at 85-years-old Mary Georgiou is still doing the business’ books.

Funeral details for Paul Georgiou will be announced in the coming days.