Corner Cafe

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our story

Our Story

We founded the cnr. café in 2003. Since then, we have grown from a restaurant seating 40 people to one that seats 240 with a staff compliment of 50. In the early days we offered breakfast and lunch only, but are now a place where you can graze all day, are open 7 days a week for breakfast lunch and supper (except on Sundays when we are open for breakfast and lunch only).

Our story begins with chef and owner Greig Walker whose elder brother would only hang out with him on condition that he cook for him and his friends. Fair deal, since even at that early stage Greig had begun to nurture the seed of an idea to run his own restaurant one day. A solid plan to achieve this would have been to enrol himself at a culinary school, except he misread the admission forms and ended up Wits Technikon Hotel School instead. In the end it wasn’t such a bad idea, the business acumen he acquired is invaluable, but he wasn’t a particularly good student. He probably skipped as many classes as he attended to take on more shifts as a waiter, first-hand experience being more his style.

Your Cnr

Our neighbourhood of Craighall Park, founded in 1902, is one of Johannesburg’s oldest suburbs. Back then it was still farmland and todays’ avenues (all named for British Dukes) were rutted dirt tracks. The original farm was named ‘Klipfontein’ (an Afrikaans word meaning ‘stone stream’) for all the small streams in the area. Another nearby stream was the Braamfontein Spruit, and close by to where the café now stands was an hotel and brewery overlooking a 50-acre lake created by enclosing these streams. The lake, hotel and brewery are all now long gone, but it being a hospitable site endures. As long as memory stretches a café has always stood on this very corner, first as a small general dealer and now as our bistro.

These days we’re a few wing flaps from Braamfontein Spruit’s bird sanctuary, where the lake formerly stretched. This green space is a breath-of-fresh-air to hang out for the neighbourhoods’ dogs, joggers, cyclists, strollers and birdwatchers, and many drop in at the café afterwards (well behaved dogs are welcome). Our local primary school is just up the road, as are our shops, and around us are the homes of our neighbours and customers. Over the years, many have become friends.

Surrounding the café is a veranda, which is cool in summer and sunny in winter. This means that you can sit outside all year round enjoying the city’s usually beautiful weather. At night, candle-lit tables make it romantic, and on chillier days our indoor wood-fired pizza oven is there to keep things cosy. Assets like these create the easy-going atmosphere that we like to work in, and where you’re afforded the opportunity to get to know the waiters by name. All this familiarity is like a deep cushioned couch that eases tensions, at least that’s the idea, with great food to match.

Cnr Cafe

We’re a bistro with something on offer all day: breakfast, brunch, lunch, coffee to go, freshly baked breads, ever changing specials to keep things interesting, good wines – some by the glass – private events, deliveries and catering.

Since food bridges communities, another secret to our enduring success is having a menu that is worth coming back for. We’re known for our Parmesan Chicken (which has been on the menu since day one and we dare not remove it), Rump n’ Roll, and mussels with chorizo.

Working with food there has to be an obvious connection to our customers. We offer vegetarian and vegan meals alongside the omnivorous, deliciously healthy alongside the deliciously not-so-healthy. Our insistence is on real food whose ingredients that are fresh and providence is known, so we make as we can much ourselves, including pasta and our own bread. Our preference veers toward the best option ingredients we can find – quality you can taste straight away. It is part of our ‘trading consciously’ philosophy, which implies an ethic of honesty in what we do – you won’t find anything hidden or artificial here. The idea is that you eat well (and enjoy a great cocktail).

VIEW OUR GALLERY

Purpose

Our calling is to offer healthy and delicious food, recipes that are our own and flavours that are quite bold and beautiful. If you are gluten or dairy intolerant, both, vegan, or can’t live without Parma ham pizza with extra cheese, our considered menu has you covered. Freshness is big, artificial is out and homemade is in. As much as possible we prefer to keep it in the community and support local businesses. We are also aware that we live in a world where animals, as much as people, need kindness and remain appreciative and respectful of the animals that provide us with our food.

Team

Greig Walker

HEAD CHEF & OWNER
In the way that life unfolds for you when you’re truly committed to your pursuits, 17 years ago Greig fulfilled a plan hatched in childhood and opened cnr. café in the same spot where it stands now, and has been running it ever since. He is at the frontline of what goes on the menu, how it is made and is here all day, every day to keep an eye on things.
We can say that cnr. café is a truly owner-run establishment. Years dashing around as a waiter, then manager of somebody’s else’s restaurant had its dividends, and of the invaluable secrets he learned as a waiter the most enduring is a deep appreciation of you, his customers. So, you’re in good hands here.

Team Player of the Month

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AND GRIEG WALKER IN ASSOCIATION WITH

Fight With Insight

In life, we believe that gratification can be found not only in gathering together around a table and eating well, but also in doing what is meaningful. There is deep need on economic, educational and emotional levels in South Africa. While we cannot solve all these problems, we would like to do something, however small. Through Greig’s, which is boxing, he has become a member of ‘Fight with Insight’ where boxing training programmes double as a way to help children who live on the streets take responsibility for their lives.

Children are referred to ‘Fight with Insight’ by the South African Youth Justice system. referred Boxing lessons are used as a form of supervised play therapy. where the rules of boxing: respect for others, adherence to referee’s decisions, accepting his/her verdict and for those who don’t win the , the ability to gracefully accept it, teach children how to respond constructively in ways that protect themselves, and others from physical and emotional harm.. Ultimately, the project’s teaching of controlled aggression hopes to break the cycle of violence begetting violence that leads to young people becoming adult offenders.

Greig steps in as a sparring partner, mentor, and teaches children how to make good food choices and prepare nourishing meals for themselves.. If the bug bites, school leavers are encouraged to take advantage of sponsored culinary training. When complete, in house practical experience is readily offered by cnr. café, since we like to nurture people who choose a life in food. Though the impact is likely small it is profound, in our own kitchen and in the community at large.

www.fightwithinsight.co.za

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