Restaurateur and author;

Born: January 6, 1919; Died: July 3, 2012.

Joe Pieri, who has died aged 93, was one of the most prominent figures in Glasgow's Scottish-Italian community. He ran several city-centre fish and chip shops, including the famous Savoy Café at Cowcaddens.

In later life he became a successful writer. He wrote several books about his experiences as an Italian immigrant, including his arrest and internment during the Second World War, and later wrote on a wider range of subjects, including the Mafia.

He was also a regular contributor to The Herald's letter pages, offering insights on topics that ranged from Benny Lynch's last visit to the Savoy Café to political tensions and American policy in the Middle East vis-a-vis Vietnam.

His parents, Francesco and Maria, had originally emigrated from Italy to the US and his elder brother, Raffaelo, was born in America. They returned to Italy after the outbreak of the First World War when Italy joined the conflict on the British side and put out a call to emigrants to return and fight.

He was born Giuseppe Pieri in the little mountain village of Bacchionero in Tuscany within weeks of the armistice. According to family legend he was born in the local church.

After the war his father was unable to find work and decided to emigrate for a second time, this time to Scotland, where he found work peeling potatoes in a Glasgow fish and chip shop. The family lived initially in the Gorbals. He would later have his own business and Mr Pieri left school at 14 to help him in the Savoy Café.

His parents and brother had taken out British nationality and Raffaelo – who was known as Ralph – was called up after the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939. He might also have taken out British nationality, but his mother was apparently against it because she did not want him to be called up as well.

Mr Pieri in the flat above the shop one day, while his brother was on active service and his parents were also away, when the police arrived and arrested him as an enemy alien, as part of a sudden operation to apprehend Italians throughout the UK following Winston Churchill's directive to "collar the lot".

In an atmosphere of total confusion, he was taken to Maryhill Barracks. In his book, River Of Memory: Memoirs Of A Scots-Italian (2006), he later wrote: "It would be hard to imagine a more motley bunch. Their ages ranged from the very young to bent old men, with the only common denominator being the possession of an Italian name.

"Some were second-generation Italians who could speak only English; some complained loudly about their arrest; some shouted to the soldiers that they had served in the British army during the First World War; some proclaimed to anyone who would listen that they had relatives now serving in the army."

They were taken from Maryhill to the docks in Liverpool where they queued up to board the cruise ship the Arandora Star, but there was not enough room, and he had to board another ship, the Ettrick.

One day out from Liverpool the Arandora Star was torpedoed by a German U-boat. Over 800 men died, most of them German or Italian. Mr Pieri sailed on the Ettrick with no idea where he was headed. His eventual destination was Canada, specifically a camp on St Helen's Island in the St Lawrence River. He would later detail his experiences there in his book Isle of the Displaced (1997).

He came back to Scotland after the war, but was still the subject of official supervision and was effectively forced to work as a farm labourer in the immediate post-war period, before returning to the family business.

Despite family opposition, in 1950 he married a Scottish girl, Mary Cameron, whom he met when she came into the Savoy for fish and chips. They set up home in Bearsden and their four children grew up fluent in Italian and English.

Mr Pieri and his brother expanded the family business with several other shops, which usually also used the name Savoy. He bought a holiday home on Majorca and was an active member of Haggs Castle Golf Club.

He also launched himself into a second career as a writer with Isle of the Displaced and Tales of the Savoy: Memoirs of Glasgow Café Society (1999). The Savoy had a very varied crowd, depending on the time of day, with shoppers, theatre-goers, police and prostitutes and their clients all taking their turn.

One of his most successful books was The Big Men (2003), a book that managed to combine the history of the Glasgow police with that of the Savoy Cafe.

In the preface, he recalled: "Once upon a time, at the top end of Hope Street, Glasgow, at the junction where it meets Renfrew Street (and where The Royal Scottish Academy Of Music and Drama now stands), there stood a blue police box.

"Two paces away in the same street the Savoy Café had one of its two entrances. The men on the beat found it much more comfortable to meet in the back shop of that establishment, rather than in the police box, for there they could stretch out at their ease and drink coffee, at the same time keeping their eye on the police box light in case of a call from the station.

"There was almost always a policeman in that back shop, from some beat or other, and the Savoy was jokingly named 'a substation of the Northern'.

"For four decades: the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, there was hardly a 'polis' from the Northern who did not make use of the facilities of the Savoy."

His wife died in 2003 and he moved to sheltered housing in Bishopbriggs. He is survived by the couple's four children, Luisa, Linda, Lorenzo and Laura, and nine grandchildren.