Travel writer, with teenage kids, who treats Brisbane as a holiday destination...every weekend!
Published August 11th 2012
It is 10am on a cold Tuesday morning and the Corner Store Café in Toowong is packed with customers. The sun is glowing, rugs have been dotted across the patio adding to the cosiness, and hearty breakfasts are being served around me. I am not even a local so why do I keep on coming back?
I bags a table outside to wait for my coffee companion and ponder this question. Two suits move in alongside and get stuck into spreadsheets and strategies with eggs and toast. Over in the corner are a group of uni students clad in beanies and shorts cosily snuggled under the rugs. They are still there when I leave, two coffees and a good long catch up later. It is very serious business.
The Corner Store Café keeps drawing me back because of its atmosphere, design, and absolutely relaxed charm. It blends historical with modern in a way I wish we saw more of around Brisbane.
Rescued from ruin, the original wooden corner store dates from the turn of last century.The building, with its pavement-wide veranda, now abuts a modern, all white, tiered outdoor area with very a high ceiling and veggie garden out the back. The mix of architectural styles is attractive and works well together. The store now houses the kitchen and indoor eating areas while the new extension is light, airy and protected from the elements for comfortable use in most conditions.
Personally I rate a café on ambience, the mood of the place, the quality of the brew (with flavour, beans not burnt), and how pleasant (noise, service, other customers) for a chat and a gossip. I am no expert but I know what I do not like.
The Corner Store Café has feel-good factor. It is stylish but relaxed, not overdone but with the touches that make you feel at home: the cushions on the benches outside, the rugs on cold mornings, the retro enamel water jugs. The coffee is good, the biccies huge and the breakfasts popular. Crowds on the weekend are a testament to the Corner Store's success.
I am not surprised to discover that the café has good pedigree. It was salvaged and reinvented by Kim and Michael Malouf, who also developed the Powerhouse, the Zen Bar and James St Market.
Meanwhile, I borrow the newspaper while I wait for my friend. Gurrumul Yunupingu plays discreetly in the background. In the Store itself, clad with internal VJs and old floorboards, is a large farmhouse table, great for group breakfasts or spreading the newspaper out over lunch. There are groceries for sale and buckets of lilies in the window.
My friend pedals in on her bike (the Corner Store Café is conveniently situated on the cycle path that links the Coronation Drive river route to the Western Freeway). She is rapt with the venue. And so it is our turn to get down to serious business - chatting.