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December 17, 2019

Humans of City Cross: Getting to the heart of Adelaide

Meet the people who make City Cross the most memorable place to eat and shop this season.

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  • Words: Belinda Willis
  • Pictures: Katie Edwards

A cameo in Red Dog the movie is just one highlight in a long career that has made key cutter and City Cross family member Carmen Nigro a well-known face in the Adelaide CBD.

The owner of Letter-it was cast as an engraver in the famous Australian movie after perfecting his craft in the busy City Cross shopping and eating spot in the heart of the Adelaide.


City Cross
32 Grenfell Street,
Adelaide SA,  5000

Mon-Thu: 9am ’til 5:30pm
Fri: 9am ’til 9pm
Sat: 9am ’til 5pm
Sun: 11am ’til 5pm

“I bought this place in November 1973, that makes it 47 years old this month,” Carmen says.

“We’ve got grandmothers coming in here to have their grand daughter’s 18th keys engraved and they’ve been customers of mine for years and years, wherever I walk people say ‘you’re the engraving guy from City Cross’.”

There have been many changes at the centre since Carmen started, including a $25 million redevelopment in 2004. Its 60 tenancies are now filled with a vibrant mix of food offerings, an old school watch doctor and, the most recent arrival, the Forever New fashion store.

“Daily Bread is my favourite because its owner Rino makes everything fresh and he makes it daily” – Carmen Nigro

Carmen Nigro from Letter-it has seen plenty of change in the City Cross centre, but picks a long-term business for his own lunch in its bustling food court.


Carmen says his secret to retail success has been “rolling with the punches” with his business moving from hand engraving to four computerised engraving machines to meet customer demand.

The store specialises in key cutting and Carmen claims it also has the largest range of keys in Adelaide – from the latest remotes to old-style mortice keys specially cast for heritage-listed houses with original door locks.

Carmen thinks of City Cross with its mix of retail, commercial and busy food court as the heart of the city where customers can find good, old-fashioned customer service.

“That’s what it’s all about,” he says.

The same philosophy stretches throughout the aptly named centre that creates a crossing point between retail and commercial in the CBD, with its offerings stretching from Rundle Mall to Grenfell Street.

The City Cross food court is home to classic South Australian brands like Balfours and Charlesworth Nuts, well-known brands KFC, Subway, Oporto and Boost Juice – along with newcomer Viet Menu and the ever-popular Daily Bread.

At Balfours Café, Danny and Karen Jong are among those embracing ever-changing customer tastes, introducing a new vegan range of food alongside quintessential South Australian Balfours pies and frog cakes.

Danny says some interstate customers have searched out their café to lodge large orders of frog cakes and vanilla slices to take home to Melbourne or Sydney.

He said many office workers stop in for a bite to eat while taking advantage of the nearby newsagency and ticket office, as well as the post office, dry cleaning service and the centre’s busy nail salon or fashion stores including Bardot.

Upstairs are retailers Harvey Norman and Rebel Sport while downstairs near the Rundle Mall entrance is one of Adelaide’s oldest family-owned jewellers, Archer and Holland.

“After 47 years I couldn’t imagine me being anywhere else,” key cutter and engraver Carmen Nigro says.

Shop, Eat and Meet at City Cross

Forever New

Right across from leading fashion store Bardot and overlooking Rundle Mall is the centre’s latest offering: Forever New. The fashion store’s grand opening was in November, just in time for the Christmas party season.




Harvey Norman

Finding the latest home purchase is easy upstairs at Shop 50. Australia’s leading retailer of computers, electrical, furniture and bedding brands has it all in the centre of the city.




Camera House

Picture perfect alongside the food court, the staff at Camera House are ready to help you get snap happy. The knowledgeable team can recommend the best camera or accessories whether you are a keen amateur photographer, a professional or just getting started.





You’ve got the dress, the furniture and now you need the accessories for the perfect dinner party – look no further than Minimax with its vast range of cookware, kitchenware, tabletop and giftware. Its European and Australian made items are guaranteed to last.




Daily Bread

The food court stalwart has a healthy offering of ready-to-go rolls, pizzas and croissants alongside its make your own lunches section. Rino Rendina has been serving up sandwiches for the past 12 years and says the classic chicken, lettuce and mayo sanga is still the crowd favourite.




Balfours café

Australia’s oldest bakery, Balfours was established in Adelaide in 1853. Its food court café offers quality sweets and savouries from its oven doors. Famous for its square pie, choccy donut, custard tart and the iconic frog cake – its range now includes healthy, vegetarian and vegan options.




Viet Menu

Serving up delicious noodles, pho and healthy avocado smoothies, Viet Menu was recently opened by Steven Pham following the success of his House of Polish nail business across the James Place entrance.




Charlesworth Nuts

New Christmas gift boxes are filling the shelves of this busy South Australian business that offers more than 200 varieties of nuts, chocolate and fruits. Staff member Emily Conroy says the newest product – raspberry white chocolate liquorice in the rough – is the must try at right now.



The Watch Doctor

Colourful character Robert Kulenicz is The Watch Doctor and says he “knows what customers want”: a fast, reliable service that doesn’t cost a fortune. He can tell a lot about a person from the watch on their wrist and says despite the launch of smart watches, the traditional watches are still popular, especially for men. Robert recently opened Silver Republic jewellery next door, near the Gawler Place entrance.



Barber Boys

Seats are always filled in this funky barber shop with staff member Taylor Fyfe saying it’s all about ensuring Adelaide’s blokes are “looking good.”






Former school teacher Lauren Smith opened her iconic Adelaide sweet shop 12 years ago to sell Blackebys boiled sweets and taffy among 1500 other types of confectionery. She says Blackebys is the oldest manufacturing confectioner in South Australia after starting in business in 1906. Now the store with its unique James Place storefront designed by a Christmas Pageant float designer Matt Jonsson is listed as a must visit for tourists.


Jorrell’s Hair and Beauty

Brothers Joe and Sam Borrello know a thing or two about hair after running their hairdressing stores for almost four decades. The two seasoned stylers have joined forces in their City Cross hair salon, with Joe saying it’s all about attention to detail.




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