Bartender Magazine’s Dave Spanton is set to reopen beloved Kings Cross cafe Piccolo Bar.
Piccolo Bar is the oldest café in Kings Cross. It’s an area veteran, and one of the last remaining touchstones of the dizzying, strange magic of a bygone Kings Cross.
Piccolo dates back to 1952, everyone from Gough Whitlam to Mel Gibson has enjoyed the cafe. With drop-ins from touring artists such as Jeff Buckley, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Marianne Faithfull. Years ago the legal drama Rake filmed some of its scenes there.
I can’t quite put my finger on what is so special about the old haunt. It was my favourite place in the whole of Sydney in my early twenties. The previous owners, siblings Eulalie and Shamus Moore used to let us smoke cigarettes over bowls of spaghetti and cheap wine we’d bring ourselves. We’d talk movies, books and listen to Kings Cross stalwarts stories spin their tales of the city. It was pretty fucking glorious and I miss it a lot.
The old owner, Vittorio Bianchi began working at the coffee shop when he was 29, he is now in his 80s. He used to handwrite me movie recommendations.
“We used to be open 24 hours,” Bianchi said back in 2017. “At one point, I was meant to close at 2am but I’d keep going right to 6am in the morning. It was the place to come after a show or an evening out, and we had everyone here, all the actors, singers, showgirls.
“People never wanted to come home, so they came here. We had a jukebox and it was always very lively. But now it is as dead as a dodo.”
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Now, Piccolo Bar has been given a lifeline. Bartender magazine founder and publisher Dave Spanton has been given the green light for a liquor license and is set to revive Piccolo as a licensed bar and diner.
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“So what are the plans for the space? You honestly can’t buy the history this place has so we want to make sure we keep that alive. If you ever visited Piccolo you will no doubt remember the famous photo wall,” Spanton says. “I will be keeping this alive with a selection of old school pictures along with a bunch of new ones with historic value that I have spent a small fortune collecting.”
Piccolo will focus on a small selection of classic cocktails, with a back bar filled with whiskies and amari. Food will be simple and hearty, sourced from local businesses.
“The Piccolo Bar, is the oldest café in Kings Cross, dating all the way back to 1952. In 2020, I heard that it was about to be lost forever and so I felt compelled to take the plunge and try to save this iconic hospitality venue,” Spanton adds. “It’s a tiny little place with just 12 seats inside and eight outside but it seemed like the perfect opportunity to help in the mission to revitalise The Cross.”