Food News

Sydney café Cornersmith Marrickville has closed

In a sudden announcement, its owners have decided to close their flagship café after seven years.
Cornersmith café Marrickville

Cornersmith café Marrickville

They reignited Sydney’s love of pickling and kickstarted Marrickville’s café culture. Now, after seven years in their corner spot in the city’s Inner West, Cornersmith’s owners have announced the closure of their much-loved café.

After several months of whispers of a pending closure, husband-and-wife team Alex Elliott-Howery and James Grant made the announcement on Instagram this morning.

“This morning we packed up our pickles and moved out of our Marrickville café. We have not made this decision lightly but after an incredible 8 years, we have decided that it’s time to make some changes at Cornersmith,” the social media post read.

“We opened that little shop in 2012, when we had two little kids and a little idea to have our own café. We had no idea Cornersmith would grow into the beautiful beast it has become and we are especially proud that it all started in a tiny little corner shop in the middle of Marrickville. Everything that Cornersmith continues to be, started there. Our pickling, our produce trading, our community work, our first cook book and of course the incredible amount of local support.

“We want to thank everyone who drank coffee, had a meal, bought a jar of pickles or dropped off a bag of cumquats. We also want to thank all the beautiful Smithies that have worked so hard and created so much in the Marrickville café over the last 8 years.”

Few would have predicted the popularity of Cornersmith when it opened seven years ago in a former thread shop on Illawarra Road. As detailed in their cookbook Cornersmith: recipes from the café and picklery, Elliott-Howery had developed an “obsessive love” for pickling, seasonal eating and cooking from scratch. Combined with Grant’s know-how in the coffee industry (he’s a former roaster with Mecca), the pair took the plunge on a run-down corner spot in Marrickville.

In its first week, the café’s near-instant popularity was marred by vandalism, including smashed windows and graffiti scrawled on the shopfront. But what followed was an outpouring of community support that has come to typify Cornersmith’s character: neighbours’ offers to clean up the mess, cards and flowers, and a watermelon tied with a bow.

The café also operated on a trading system whereby customers could trade produce harvested from their garden – rosemary, chokos, oranges – in exchange for a jar of pickles and coffee.

Notably, Cornersmith is also dotted on the CVs of several notable Sydney hospitality talent, including Nick Smith and Daniel Cesarino of Rising Sun, Mitchell Antman of One Another, and sommelier Marc Dempsey from pop-up restaurant Ételek.

It’s not the end of the Cornersmith tale. The picklery, located just up the road from the Marrickville café, will remain open for pickle and preserve purchases and cooking classes, while the Annandale café, launched in 2016, also remains open. And Elliott-Howery and Grant have hinted that there may be plans to open another Cornersmith sometime, somewhere, in the near future. “If you see a perfect empty corner shop anywhere, drop us a line!,” their post says. “We’re keeping our eyes peeled.”

Cornersmith Picklery, 441 Illawarra Rd, Marrickville, NSW

Cornersmith Annandale, 88 View St, Annandale, NSW

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