Media and Communications Office
Today, hundreds flocked to Melbourne’s St Patrick’s Cathedral for the State Funeral of Sisto Malaspina, the co-owner of the iconic Pellegrini’s Espresso Bar. Friends, family and customers united in grief for the beloved restaurateur and Victorian icon who was killed in the Bourke Street terror attack this month.
Archbishop Peter Comensoli extended a ‘gentle and warm welcome’ to dignitaries including Victoria Governor Linda Dessau AC, Premier Daniel Andrews, as well as business luminaries and close friends to Sisto, Lindsey Fox and Harold Mitchell.
In her address, Governor Dessau remarked that she knew Sisto in the same way many other Victorians did: through his charming customer service and passion for his business, a sentiment reflected by Sisto’s son David Malaspina, who said that the Pellegrini’s customers were why his father worked long hours.
‘There is no doubt his customers meant so much to him. For the customers who came in on a daily basis, just know that he did not consider you customers, he considered you friends,’ he said.
David spoke of his Father’s pride of living in the ‘unique and wonderful city’ of Melbourne and referenced the impact many migrants, like Sisto, have had on Victoria’s capital.
‘Dad is an example of why Melbourne is the best city in the world,’ said David, ‘our great country has been blessed by waves of migrants from all corners of the globe. These bring their culture and dreams with them in search of a better life.’
‘Dad had an amazing ability to make everybody feel special. Apart from the wholesome, old-fashioned food and great coffee, I believe it was his love of people that made him successful.’
‘He had the amazing ability to lift ones spirit with a greeting, a big smile and with the assistance of a bright flamboyant shirt and ever present cravat,’ he concluded.
Lindsay Fox and Harold Mitchell both made powerful eulogies.
Fox told the packed cathedral that throughout his fifty-year friendship with co-owners Nino and Sisto, they’d always been ‘pepper and salt,’ and that ‘they worked as a team and made the business the institution that it is today. Its food, coffee, people and owners have made it what is has been.’
Mitchell echoed Fox’s sentiments stressing that ‘no place brought people together more than Pellegrini’s.’
Mitchell also spoke of Sisto’s love of colour and vibrant style, and noted Sisto would poke fun of Mitchell’s own monochrome dress sense whenever he visited Pellegrini’s. To joyous applause, he replaced his own charcoal grey suit jacket with a bright yellow blazer and an accompanying floral cravat, joking his new colour scheme matched the Archbishop’s vestment.
‘Thank you Sisto, you loved us and we loved you,’ added Mitchell.
In his homily Catholic Archdiocese Vicar General Monsignor Greg Bennet spoke of his affection for Sisto and their exchange of food in lieu of prayers.
‘Like Sisto, this great city will continue to be warm, generous, and friendly,’ said the Vicar General. ‘In the midst of the shadow that has befallen his family and those who loved him, his life has shone like a light.’