A1 Canteen in Chippendale and Micky's Cafe in Paddington to close

Farewell: A1's muffuletta sandwich quickly became a must-try dish in Sydney.
Farewell: A1's muffuletta sandwich quickly became a must-try dish in Sydney. Photo: Christopher Pearce

One is the hot new kid on the block, the other a Sydney staple since the 1980s. But the challenges of the COVID-19 landscape have claimed both food venues, with Clayton Well's A1 Canteen in Chippendale to close its doors early next month and Paddington institution Micky's Cafe sliding into administration.

Despite hospitality industry forecasts that predicted accessible eating venues would fare better than their more upmarket kin, the news is alarming for the sector.

Micky's opened in Paddington in 1988, at the height of Oxford Street's drawing power as a fashion and shopping hub. Owner Helen Theodore never wavered from simple fare at Micky's, and it moved with the times.

Curried scrambled egg and LP's sausages on an English muffin at A1 Canteen.
Curried scrambled egg and LP's sausages on an English muffin at A1 Canteen. Photo: Nikki To

The marshmallows on top of Micky's hot chocolate were housemade, it used free-range eggs before they became fashionable, and the top-shelf meat and bakery suppliers saw Micky's become an inter-generational Sydney rite of passage.

Regulars became concerned when it remained closed in recent days. "SV Partners has been appointed liquidators as of yesterday to Micky's Cafe. The business will not continue to trade," a spokeswoman at SV Partners confirmed to Good Food.

Meanwhile, hatted chef Clayton Wells announced on social media his A1 Canteen spin-off will close on October 9. It opened in 2018, but A1's muffuletta sandwich and curried eggs have already etched themselves as must-try Sydney food experiences.

Apple and rhubarb crumble at Micky's Cafe.
Apple and rhubarb crumble at Micky's Cafe. Photo: James Brickwood

"It goes without saying that this year has been challenging for everyone in our industry. Due to our current lease being up for renewal and the ongoing impact from COVID-19, we as a business are simply unable to justify extending our lease in such a volatile climate for cafes and restaurants," Wells announced on social media.

Wells described A1 Canteen as being conceived as a venue to serve the surrounding community and local businesses. Micky's did a similar job for its local community.

Fortunately, Wells' mothership, the upmarket Automata restaurant opposite A1, will survive.

"We are celebrating its fifth birthday this week and it continues to thrive. Since reopening, we have been overwhelmed with support from regular and first-time diners at our tables," the chef said.