Beloved Parkville Store to become Café Piccolina

Beloved Parkville Store to become Café Piccolina
Katie Johnson

After more than 10 years of trading, the sudden closure of the Parkville Store last month left regulars feeling the loss of their favourite neighbourhood café.

Established in 1884 as a grocer, it had undergone many transformations over the years, but had always been a warm, welcoming space for locals to gather.

One of its regulars, Alex Wright, had been working at the nearby Naughton’s Hotel for eight years when the previous owners approached her.

“I wasn’t really looking to own a business, but when the opportunity presented itself all signs pointed to yes,” Ms Wright said.

“This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I wouldn’t get again.”

Since moving to Melbourne from a small town in New South Wales eight years ago, Ms Wright has become a familiar face in Parkville.

Not only had she managed Naughton’s for five years, she was also playing gigs there with her acoustic duo band Desdemona once a month.   

So, when the opportunity arose to be the new face of the Parkville Store, the choice was clear.   

“I have the benefit of being in the community for so long, so I know how important the space is for Parkville and how devastated everyone was when the owners had to close,” Ms Wright said.

“Even though I don’t live here, Parkville feels like my home.”

Currently amid getting the café ready for re-opening, Ms Wright said it was important to get the right balance between putting her own stamp on the place while honouring its heritage.

“It’s going to be called Café Piccolina, which means little one in Italian. That’s what my grandma used to call me,” Ms Wright said.


It’s a beautiful heritage building with a long history, so I want to honour that, but I’m also quite a sentimental person so I want it to be my own space.


To honour her Italian background, the new menu will be vaguely Italian inspired with a focus on seasonal produce.

“I love the idea of fresh, seasonal produce and I want to be as sustainable as possible with minimal wastage,” Ms Wright said.

“There will also be a huge focus on specialty coffee.”

With 17 years of experience in hospitality, Ms Wright said that even in a pandemic she felt excited for the adventure of re-branding the café.

“I was born into the industry, my grandparents had a restaurant, and my grandad had a vineyard, so even though I’ve done different things I always come back to it,” she said.

“I’m stoked to have a little cafe in Parkville and can’t wait to have a cosy, inviting space for the locals to come back to.”

Café Piccolina is set to open on August 7, pending restrictions •

Enquiries: [email protected]

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