The corner institution that serves coffee till late and sources Italian produce you can’t find anywhere else.

By Tess Scholfield-Peters

Owner Joe was in the pub game before he decided to switch to the family business of groceries. He and his family have owned Crown Street Grocer just six months shy of a decade, and like all longstanding local business owners, the streets of Surry Hills today are very different to those he knew when he first arrived.

“Ten years ago this whole area was derelict, it was all busted down, blacked out windows,” recalls Joe. “We redeveloped it all and have really brought the street together.”

It’s easy to guess Joe’s Italian background from a quick glance at the grocer. Imported mineral waters and soft drinks line the shop front, and in the aisles are jars of hard to find pasta sauces, pastas and, in the deli section, an array of cheeses imported from Italy and France.

“We try to source products that no one else has,” says Joe, “that’s what makes us unique.”

It’s easy to see why the grocer has become a neighbourhood institution over the last decade. Its spot in the very heart of the suburb, on the corner of Crown and Foveaux streets, makes the grocer a perfect meeting point for locals.

“We open at ten to five every morning and serve coffee till 7pm every night,” says Joe, who sites their long opening hours as a main point of difference from other grocers in the area.

The grocer’s longstanding relationship with the Salvation Army is another point of difference. Every week they provide the Salvos with sandwiches for their year eleven and twelve program, and they run a barbeque once a month for all the kids.

“We’ll be here for a long time, that’s definite,” says Joe. “Being here and serving the people. That’s what we like doing.”

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