The Parade in Norwood was returning to a feeling of 'normal' long before cafés and restaurants were allowed 10 people to sit outside, and, as CityMag discovers, it's all thanks to the steady determination of some excellent local, independent traders.
Back to The Parade
Connie Rhigas runs a suite of florist shops across Adelaide, but says – with some qualification – that The Parade store is her favourite.
“I love this neighbourhood,” she says to CityMag as we find a bench near her store – Flower Parade. “It’ll be nice once things open up a little bit more and a little bit more.”
CityMag’s time on The Parade was made possible thanks to the support of the City of Norwood Payneham & St Peters.
COVID-19 had every mainstreet in South Australia feeling like a ghost town, but The Parade in Norwood stayed open throughout thanks to a cluster of committed, compassionate and collaborative traders. We ask Connie whether she closed down at all.
“I didn’t,” comes her reply. We sense an air of pride and determination in her answer.
“I am,” she confirms.
“I actually feel people are respectful of that. Because, you know, we were scared. Our staff were scared,” says Connie.
“A few of them chose not to work because they didn’t feel safe. And that’s okay because everyone feels and deals with things differently. We were able to keep going. We reduced our trading hours, but our hours are quite extensive – normally 7:30 to 7:30.
“We’re still not back to normal, but we’re nearly there,” Connie says.
It’s 4:45pm and CityMag has all but finished our day on The Parade. We’ve caught up with a butcher and a wine merchant, had a chat with a waitress, a tailor and a florist and now we’re just waiting for European Café to open at 5pm so we can pay our respects to the Cavuoto family.
Sitting with Connie and watching the footpath fill out a little more, she remarks on the unique character of the place, the heritage and modern frontages all standing alongside each other as well as the community who visit and shop here – who’s age range span the full breadth of human life.
“It’s what makes The Parade so great, is that mixture of old and new,” says Connie.
The cornerstone traders
The butcher, fishmonger and fruit and veg shop in Norwood Place shopping centre are three cornerstone businesses who have remained open to serve the community.
“We’ve adapted, too,” says John O’Connell of Bos Taurus Butchery.
“We’ve started home deliveries in conjunction with Metro Fresh – the fruit and veg shop next door. They deliver our product, the fish shop, chicken shop and Baker’s Delight – we’re all in it together.”
Bos Taurus Butchery is doing a brisk trade, with customers diligently sticking to the taped-out ‘x’s on the tiles in front of the shop. John halts our interview to serve a middle-aged man in running gear. He’s ordering from Bos Taurus’ ‘dry-aged’ fridge and would like each steak vacuum packed.
John’s wife Jade picks up where John left off and explains how they found Adelaide after selling their butcher shop in Victoria and travelling around Australia with their young family in a caravan. Jade designed the store, which has marvellous stone surfaces and the sort of tiled backsplash you’d expect in a small bar rather than a butcher.
“I wanted it to be alluring,” says Jade, as yet another person steps forward to an unoccupied ‘x’. Jade takes her leave of us to jump in and serve.
Just a couple of shops down from Bos Taurus Butchery, a favourite wine store of CityMag’s, Parade Cellars, is also looking like it’s had a bit of a spruce up.
Store manager Ash Sinclair nods when we suggest the place is looking, well, completely different.
“Literally everything – the floor, the shelves – everything came out. This shop was a Sip’n Save when it first opened up, but because we’re more of a boutique wine store – we’ve got hard-to-get whiskies, we sell a lot of imported wine, we’ve got a fine wine room now down the back with a heap of Borolos and Burgundies – so we wanted the shop to reflect that,” says Ash.
And Parade Cellars have done just that. Save for the blue ‘x’s taped to the floor throughout the store to help customers navigate correct social distancing measures, there is a genuine ‘cellar’ feeling imbued in the place, with moody downlights, real brick pillars and an expansive selection of top-notch booze.
“We’ve been operating throughout [COVID-19] and have seen a decent increase in foot traffic,” says Ash.
“It gets a little hard to manage things as people are getting more relaxed now,” he says when we ask how people on The Parade have reacted to the pandemic-induced restrictions.
“We saw a little more cask wine and cleanskin sales at the start, which is totally understandable with all the financial implications of the lockdown, but these are just observations – not problems. We’re just so happy we could stay open and keep our casuals on.”
Stepping out of the shopping centre and into the fresh, late-autumn air, it is nice to see so many people in a public place. All along The Parade you can see little green shoots starting to sprout at Kintaro sushi, Caffe Buongiorno and St Louis, who’ve all rushed out with the 10 seats they’re permitted, all filled with happy customers plonked down and chatting with each other over food and drink.
But perhaps one of the best tests of an economy coming back to life is whether we’re selling any handmade suits at all.
Stepping out in style
Perennial CityMag favourite, Riccardo Di Fabio is having a coffee with his daughter Daniela Di Fabio when we arrive. Riccardo says that business took a sharp downturn with the advent of the pandemic, but instead of throwing his hands in the air, he thought he should put them to work.
He’s making Daniela a new jacket from some old material he had leftover from when he used to make formal wear for the military.
“I haven’t had something made by Dad in so long,” says Daniela. “It’s really beautiful to wear something that’s tailored to your body and shape like this.”
Daniela is a pilates and ballet instructor who works at various places around town, but close by here at CY Pilates & Fitness at the corner of Queen Street and The Parade.
“It’s a fantastic studio and has had a real sense of community about it during all of this uncertainty. I’m really looking forward to these restrictions lifting and seeing everyone back in their routines again,” says Daniela.
“As for me,” interjects Riccardo, “I’m starting to see things come back to normal. After nothing for a little bit, I’ve had three suits ordered in the last week!”
Our chat with Riccardo and Daniela has us in high spirits, heading to the top of The Parade and – where we left the Cavuoto family – at the top of our story.
“We were the first ones open on The Parade and – for a while there,” says Gianni Cavuoto, pausing to make sure we get this down, “for a while there, we were the only ones open on The Parade.”
The European Café just oozes with the brand of braggadocious hospitality that’s become synonymous with great Italian restaurants in Adelaide.
Three brothers: Gianni, Ricardo, and Julian all at work with mum, Gabriella, doing everything from answering phones, stretching pizza dough to tossing spaghetti over a hot stove. It’s real, honest and delicious food, and it’s won the café loyal fans over its 41-year operating history.
“This restaurant used to be just take away,” says Gabriella. “So this is really back to how it used to be. We’re doing alright, all things considered – we’ve got great customers.”
And those customers include one very important local.
“Yeah the Premier eats here – Steven,” says Gianni. “We probably see him every second Saturday or so. So – you know – we’re keeping tabs on the situation,” he says with a wink.
No doubt The Parade will lead the way for other neighbourhoods as it brings more and more businesses back online in the coming weeks and months.
Certainly we here at CityMag are very much looking forward to dining in once again at the iconic European Café.