Tributes have begun to pour in for Sisto Malaspina, the beloved Melbourne cafe owner killed in Friday’s Bourke Street terror attack, with staff, celebrities and members of the public remembering him as “one in a million” and a kind and loyal friend.
In a heartbreaking tribute, the ABC’s Virginia Trioli said “I am devastated. I’ve known Sisto’s smiling, beautiful face all my life. My first coffee, my first date, my Melbourne life. This man, this bar, this lane, this community is the heart of Melbourne – and it will always beat strong.”
Actor Russell Crowe said that he has been going to Pellegrini‘s since 1987, and that he has never gone to Melbourne without dropping in on “my man Sisto.” “South Sydney stickers on the wall and caps on display,” he said. “My sweet loyal friend, stabbed in the street by a mad man.”
Crowe went on to say that: “He was like a favourite uncle. One of the reasons I love going to Melbourne, because I knew I’d get that greeting. When we met I was a badly paid theatre actor, he always treated me like a prince.”
Fellow actor Nick Giannopoulos remembered him as an “icon and legend.” “Always a friendly smile and a chat about how the Bombers were traveling,” he said. “Thank you for everything you gave to Melbourne. You were loved by all and will be missed.”
Anthony Field of The Wiggles said that he was “heartbroken” to lose such a great man and friend as Sisto Malaspina to a “senseless act of violence”, thanking him for the love he gave to everyone. “You will be missed mate,” he said.
Brendan Nottle of the Salvation Army, who occupy an office across the street from Pellegrini’s, said that Malaspina was “one in a million” and his loss will leave a “massive hole” in the community. Flowers and tributes have begun to pile up outside of the cafe, which remains closed for the weekend.
A note from staff was left on display at the venue, thanking Malaspina for being the “best boss” over the years. “You always looked after us like family,” reads the note, “you always said to have fun at work because we all worked so hard, Pellegrini’s was your life, we will never forget all that you have done and given us all.”
In 2014, Sisto Malaspina received a commendation from the Lord Mayor of Melbourne for his contributions to the city, and above is a video recorded at the time.
Twitter / Russell Crowe