Four days after the tragic death of Sisto Malaspina during Friday’s devastating Bourke Street attack, Melbourne institution Pellegrini’s has reopened. Malaspina had run the Italian cafe on Bourke Street for more than 40 years after purchasing it with Nino Pangrazio in 1974.
The cafe reopened at 8am on Tuesday morning. According to the ABC, the kitchen will remain closed but customers who order a long black today will receive their drink free of charge – the coffee was Malaspina’s favourite.
As reported by Nine News the cafe filled up quickly after opening its doors, but Malaspina’s regular spot at the end of the bar remained empty, save for a newspaper, a long black, some candles and flowers. Just before opening, Nino Pangrazio read a short statement to his staff.
"Sisto and I have spent a lifetime building something special in Pellegrini's," Mr Pangrazio said. "He will always be with us, and I intend to ensure Pellegrini's will always be with us."
In the days since the attack, Pellegrini’s has been inundated with flowers, messages and social media posts honouring the fallen hospitality icon. The Malaspina family will donate the flowers to hospitals and nursing homes.
As reported by the Guardian, the City of Melbourne is considering renaming Crossley Street – which Pellegrini’s sits on the corner of – "Sisto Lane", in honour of the restaurateur.
On Monday, the Malaspina family accepted Premier Daniel Andrew’s offer of a state funeral. The family also issued the following statement:
“We would like to thank Dad’s friends, customers, and all the wonderful people that have come forward to pay their respects and show their love and support. We are deeply moved by all the flowers, gifts and condolences.
“To the people of Melbourne, your heartfelt tributes have shown us why our dad loved this great city so much.
“To the emergency services personnel; our gratitude and appreciation for all your hard work and efforts. Especially the first responders and police that put themselves in harm’s way to protect others, your bravery and heroism is a representation of the strength and solidarity of our community.
“Dad was a larger than life character and his natural generosity made every individual he met feel welcome and important.
“Each customer of Dad’s was given the same respect and service regardless of their standing in society. To him everyone was special. His love and passion for his customers remained the same for over 40 years. To him it was a joy to go to work every day.
“In honour of Dad’s memory the wonderful staff at Pellegrini’s are determined to continue his legacy with the same passion.
“He was a distinctly recognisable figure in his colourful choice of clothing and his flamboyant personality. To us he was just a beautiful man, a loving husband and a doting father.”
The state funeral for Sisto Malaspina is planned for next week, the details of which are still to come.
Inside Pellegrinis, this is where Sisto would sit and read the paper. Staff have had their first meeting, and have opened for coffee the first time since Friday’s tragedy @9NewsMelb pic.twitter.com/Q9Koqn7yr5— Madeline Slattery (@maddieslattery) November 12, 2018
Inside Pellegrinis. Open for coffee for the first time since Friday’s tragedy https://t.co/8VHyVS5De1— Madeline Slattery (@maddieslattery) November 12, 2018