Vittoria Coffee CEO Les Schirato remembers meeting Pellegrini’s Espresso Bar co-owner Sisto Malaspina when he was just a teenager.
The life of the widely-loved Malaspina, who was killed on Friday afternoon in a terrorist attack in Melbourne, will be celebrated next Tuesday with a state funeral for the Italian-born 74-year-old many considered the heart of the city.
The Pellegrini brothers, Leo and Vildo, who’d worked at nearby Café Florentino opened Italian cafe their at 66 Bourke Street in 1954 and after expanding in 1958 began serving family-owned Vittoria Coffee. That hasn’t changed. Nor has the blend.
Some 15 years later, Malaspina bought the business with his friend Nino Pangrazio. They ran it together for the next 44 years, before Friday’s tragedy, which sent shockwaves of grief through the thousands who met the cafe’s charming and generous over the decades.
Th duo had just taken over Pellegrini’s when Schirato, fresh to his own family’s coffee business first met the dashing Italian, a decade his senior, who he’d go on to regard as an older brother. When Schirato’s son, Rolando, now Vittoria’s managing director, was just four-years-old, he too went went to meet “Uncle Sisto”
Vittoria’s love of their long-standing customers and the values they embody inspired them to make a short film about duo as a celebration to their enduring success.
That mini-doco has now turned into a touching tribute to a life full of laughter and joy.
Vittoria and the Schirato’s posted their film about Malaspina and Pangrazio on social media last night, saying:.
Pellegrinis has been a client since 1959. In 1974 Sisto took over and had been a friend and loyal customer for the last 44 years. A beautiful man who will remain an icon of the Australian hospitality industry for generations to come.
For those of you that never had the privilege to meet Sisto and experience his hospitality, we hope you enjoy this short clip we shot recently with Sisto and his partner Nino.
Our thoughts are with his many friends and family. The Vittoria Family.
Here’s the film: