The journey to open Mary's Newtown has traversed many miles, and the owners have relished the challenge. Kenny Graham and Jake Smyth met in Edinburgh, Scotland, several years ago, and discovered they had much in common.
They were both courting their future wives at the time, and both had a love of food, whisky, beer and cocktails. After a night drinking ‘Old Fashioneds’ – the classic whiskey cocktail – they knew they were destined to do great things together in the future. They just couldn’t remember what!
When Jake and Ali returned to Sydney to start a new life together, Kenny knew what was missing. He packed up and moved to Sydney as well, with his wife, Aimee.
The boys spent the next few years working – sometimes apart, sometimes together, aiming to start their own bar one day. Eventually they ended up working at two of the restaurants they most admired in Sydney, Bodega and Porteño.
After two years of hard work, and not shutting up about their ambitions, two of their bosses, Joe Valore and Elvis Abrahanowicz sat them down and sparked life back into their dream. They were so encouraging, in fact, that they gave the boys the financial backing they needed to get started.
“From that moment on it has been nonstop,” Kenny said. “The most intense, fun and rewarding journey we have ever taken, and we look to take it as far as we can.”
Still on the ride of their lives, the boys opened Mary’s Newtown in April 2013, providing a limited offering, which they take huge amounts of time and care to deliver.
Jake and co-head chef, Drew Corbell, share a passion for local produce, and proudly admit that all their produce is Australian, from beef to bun (minus a very famous American cheese slice!). They use the team at Sydney Direct for their fruit and veggies, and Vic’s Meats for all butchery. Jake said, “We have worked carefully with the team at Vic’s to source our beef and chickens from suppliers with who are environmentally and ethically sound. Our grass-fed beef comes from farms in the Northern Rivers of NSW, and our chickens are from free range farmers Holmbrae, in the greater Sydney region.”
As well as carefully sourcing their produce, the boys have also carefully selected their team. Jake said, “Our team has come to us over time and we are blessed to have every member working with us. They are the guts and spirit of Mary’s when we get tired. They carry her message through daily, and are our most valuable asset to our business. We work hard to earn their respect every day, and we thank them for all of the sweat.”
Such passion and love can only take the boys in one direction, and the boys don’t look like slowing down any time soon. The first expansion being a takeaway Mary’s satellite shop which has recently opened in the Sydney CBD. The journey has taken some twists and turns, but the boys remain united in their vision for Mary’s and their future.
Kenny said, “We are noisy whisky/beer/cider drinkers with a love of well-crafted natural wine. Our business is similar – with certain aspects of our business a real juxtaposition that blend well.”
Jake adds, “we feel the whole thing works due to the the ying and yang, the gutter and the stars.”