For over 100 years, the tiny seafood store on the north side of Princes Highway in Blakehurst has served fish and chips so good it has attracted customers from all over Sydney and beyond.
But all good things come to an end, and Smith’s Seafoods (before that West Seafoods) will close tomorrow (Friday, November 26) for the last time.
Typical of the time, the shop site and the adjoining properties on Tom Uglys Point will be converted into apartments.
Craig Smith, who has been involved with the store since he was 16 and is now 70, said he felt “very sad” but also “exhausted”.
“It was good times every day,” he said.
“I have met thousands and thousands of people, and many of them are still good friends and repeat customers.
“They’re encouraging us to reopen elsewhere, but I’m ready to retire.
“I start at 4 am to go to the fish markets and you are up all day.”
Mr Smith said his son Bronson, who has worked in the store for 11 years, “wants to do something else, but he’s learned so much that he could re-establish the business at any time.”
“Bronson was 18 when he came to help us for a few days, and he got stuck.”
Mr Smith and his brother Brett decided to sell after the 2015 announcement of extended hours of operation on the freeway, which eliminated customer parking.
While the parking lot at a nearby park was subsequently enlarged, the die was cast.
During the community debate on the clearway decision, Mr Smith wrote to Leader in response to a letter saying the store’s parking restricted traffic.
“Our store was originally built on Woniora Road, Blakehurst, over 100 years ago,” replied Mr. Smith.
“The highway moved there after the Tom Uglys Bridge was built in 1929 and the road was later renamed Princes Highway.
“It’s not like we mean to disturb anyone.”
Mr Smith said when they sold the site they expected to be able to continue renting for a longer period, but the owner changed and they were told to vacate the premises by November 26.
The store was owned by two generations of the West family before it was acquired by the Smiths in 1981.
“I met the Westes when I was 16,” said Mr. Smith.
“My family had an oyster farm in Woolooware Bay and an opening facility with 30 workers in Marrickville,” he said.
“Doug West asked me if I wanted to buy the store and I said to my family, ‘This is a good place to continue our business.
“We sold Marrickville and moved here.”
The Smiths also owned the seafood store on the south side of the highway for several years, but sold it in 2011.