See inside Cafe 1851 as it opens its doors in historic Mackie's Corner

From Davy Lamps hanging from the bar to a specially-made artwork in honour of Victorian retailer Robert Mackie, new Cafe 1851 is honouring the area’s heritage as it opens its doors in Mackie’s Corner.
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Once home to Sunderland’s very first fashion stores in the mid-nineteenth century including popular hatmaker Robert Mackie, whose name became the colloquial name for the site, the Hutchinson’s Buildings have a long history in Sunderland city centre.

It’s a heritage which captured businessman Harry Collinson’s imagination so much he decided to become the latest trader to invest in the development as it undergoes a renaissance which has seen the creation of a hub of independent businesses.

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Following the success of The Looking Glass in Sunniside, which Harry runs with wife Nicola, he has opened sister venue Cafe 1851 in the former Cafe Farah unit, creating six new jobs.

The new Cafe 1851The new Cafe 1851
The new Cafe 1851

The bar and restaurant has been completely renovated to give it a whole new identity which links to the past whilst also raising a glass to the area’s future with a creative cocktail menu.

There’s also a range of draught options, bottles and food such as burgers, stone-baked pizzas, nachos, pasta, open sandwiches and loaded fries on the menu, which is proving popular with its first customers.

"We’ve only been open three weeks and we’ve had a really positive response. We’ve already had people coming in from outside of the city, people who would usually go to Durham, which is great for the city," said Harry. “I never expected to be opening a new site in a pandemic, but as soon as I walked in here I saw the original wall, the steel beams and I fell in love with the place.

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"I have a big interest in history, especially Sunderland’s heritage, and this seemed like too good an opportunity to turn down.”

City businessman Harry Collinson is the latest to invest in the renaissance of Mackie's Corner.City businessman Harry Collinson is the latest to invest in the renaissance of Mackie's Corner.
City businessman Harry Collinson is the latest to invest in the renaissance of Mackie's Corner.

Harry and his family have a long history in retail in the city, stemming back to when his dad Harry Collinson Snr opened his first watchmakers shop in Blandford Street 40 years ago.

Cafe 1851 is the latest in a swathe of new openings in this corner of the city centre, which, as well as Mackie’s Corner, includes Spent Grain, Undisclosed, Coffee Haus and more – and Harry believes the area has a bright future.

"City Centres change and this area is undergoing lots of regeneration,” he explained. “There’s a real independent, cool quarter developing. In Mackie’s Corner there’s some great traders, such as Sweet Petite, Fat Unicorn and Black Door Hairdressing. All the businesses are supportive of each other and it’s great to be a part of that.”

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Other new additions set to change the face of the city centre include the nearby £500m Riverside Development, which is transforming the old Vaux site and Sheepfolds into a mix of offices, homes and leisure.

The decor honours the heritage of the siteThe decor honours the heritage of the site
The decor honours the heritage of the site

Harry said: “Big investors are seeing all the potential Sunderland has and it’s great to see.”

*Cafe 1851 is open Wednesday to Thursday from 12pm-6pm and Friday to Saturday from 12pm until 11pm. There are plans for Social Sundays in the future, as well as the creation of outdoor seating on the pavement.

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