Although Cornwell Jewelers previously closed in 2019, a Cornwell family-owned restaurant will take its place later this summer.
David and Jen Cornwell will be opening The North End, an open air street taco restaurant in the old Cornwell Jewelers building, 77 N. Court Street.
The restaurant will serve an array of margaritas and tacos developed by Jen. Despite facing delays and uncertainty because of the COVID-19 pandemic, David said he hopes to open the restaurant in early August.
Currently, the building is being renovated and expanded outward into the current space of the parking lot to create more room for dining. David said the building will also have large glass slides similar to garage doors, which will create a spacious, outdoor feeling, all while dining indoors.
“It'll be very open air,” David said. “On a nice 70-degree day ... if you're sitting inside, it's gonna feel like you're sitting outside.”
The slides will remain open during the warmer months, David said, and will be put down in the winter months.
The Cornwells said they were inspired by talking to many Athens residents and college students who had a desire for that type of restaurant. They hope to bring something to Athens that Court Street doesn’t already have.
Items on the menu will be simple and fresh, Jen said, with an emphasis on the variety of street-style tacos. Additionally, the restaurant will have rice bowls, chips with fresh guacamole and nachos. Drinks will include margaritas and craft cocktails.
David said he aims to keep the prices around the normal Court Street range, but the exact prices are not yet determined.
When the Cornwells were initially beginning on the project, Jen said the COVID-19 pandemic was not yet in the picture. They were hoping to open in April, but due to the pandemic, that didn’t happen, David said.
David has always been a fan of open-air restaurants, he said, and he always enjoyed the ones in Florida. He thinks due to the pandemic, open air restaurants may become more popular.
“I've always loved going to places that you felt like a breath of fresh air when you walked in,” David said. “Fresh air is going to be important. I think people like it.”
According to a previous Post report, Cornwell Jewelers first opened in 1832 on the second floor of what is currently Big Mama’s Burritos, 10 S. Court St. At the time of its closure, it was the second oldest family-run jewelry business in the U.S.
The business was purchased by David’s sister, Kris Cornwell, in the early 2000s, and was moved to its final location at 77 N. Court Street about 15 years ago, David said.
Jen said she hopes The North End will be a fun, cozy restaurant where customers can sit down for a lighter meal with a lot of variety.
“I think that this will be fun: being able to have the different salsas and the smaller street tacos,” Jen said. “You come in, and you can get two or three different ones, depending on how hungry you are.”
The North End, David said, will also allow the Cornwells to keep the building in the family.
“It's just going to be … a fun, energetic open-air atmosphere,” David said.