322 Victoria Street Darlinghurst, Sydney (02) 9380 5420
There are not too many cafés that have withstood the test of time as well as Darlinghurst’s famous café, Bar Coluzzi, on the strip in Victoria Road. Bar Coluzzi is well known around the world for its iconic name and is often referred to in tourist information pitches for international travellers to visit when in Sydney.
I was very excited when Paul Wilmot from Karmee Coffee lined up an interview for me with the latest owners. I have a lot of respect for Australian café history, as there are not too many older establishments still trading – especially after fifty years.
I was invited into the café by new owners, Tibor Vertes and his business partner, Mark Alexander-Erber. These two newly established partners are far from old hands in this business. Tibor is a semi retired criminal lawyer and Mark was the entrepreneur behind the Pubboy consortium.
The new operators have made a few subtle changes that the business needed to survive in respect to the original concept that the Coluzzi family established. One change that was long overdue was to bring up the coffee service to the present decade in coffee standards. The duo put the coffee business out to tender, and Karmee Coffee from Sydney won the contract and designed a blend that past and new clientele were happy with after many trials and blind tasting.
Bar Colluzzi was first established in William Street, Darlinghurst in 1957 by middle weight boxing champion, Luigi Coluzzi. The café was moved to the Victoria Street location when the tunnel was built through to the Eastern Suburbs in 1970. Inside the café, the walls are full with the fighter’s memorabilia, of his success in this once thriving sport.
The café has been home to a regular group of followers from all walks of life, and at nearly all times of the day the little red stools at the front of the café on the street are full. Early mornings, the café is home to a team of lycra clad cyclists who have an espresso start to their morning ride. The café has a colourful history, and many hospitality tourists will stop in to experience a bit of past café history and to be part of this iconic business.
Tibor had been a customer at Bar Colluzzi for over 30 years and was the perfect candidate to become part of the iconic business. He understands businesses need to make some changes to stand up in this competitive world, no matter how much history they have. Tibor and Mark live close by in the neighbourhood and have seen a directional change in the small bar business model, and they see this as a good fit for this historic establishment.
The café still serves simple food that the street punters like. They have lifted the quality of service by modernising the back end of the shop and sharpening up the processes. Bar Colluzzi is a great spot to burn an hour having a simple café snack of a pastry and a good old fashioned espresso. I will often get a seat early and have a short moment chilling and doing some people spotting, which you will always be able to enjoy in this trendy location.