Another major blow — a coward punch if you will — has been delivered to what was once the buzzing nightlife of Kings Cross, with the area’s oldest café being forced to close after 65 years, with lockout laws, smoking bans, and the march of time killing the iconic Piccolo Bar.
Owner-operator Vittorio Bianchi began working at the coffee shop when he was 29. He is now 82, and mourning the passing of his life’s work.
“It is very sad,” he told a real estate site (the irony of which we shall ignore for now). “But the Cross is so quiet now, it’s dead after the lockout laws and the ban on smoking inside, and outside, cafés. The politicians have done a good job of killing the place.
“We used to be open 24 hours,” Bianchi continues. “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.”
As the above linked article points out, everyone from Gough Whitlam to Mel Gibson has enjoyed the cafe’s coffee over the years, with drop-ins from touring artists such as Jeff Buckley, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Marianne Faithfull. Recently the legal drama Rake filmed some of its scenes there.
The café may still be rescued, with the shop currently up for lease at around $500 per week – a rather reasonable price, should the lockout laws change anytime soon and make it a worthwhile endeavour.