AT THE QUAY
SHOP W5, WEST PODIUM, CIRCULAR QUAY
OPPOSITE WHARF 5
Italian restaurant with panoramic harbour views, using fresh Australian produce
PASSION FOR FOOD
In 1955, John Liberiou arrived in Australia to start work in a country town cafe near the Snowy Mountains. His original plan was to work hard, save money and return to Europe. However this changed when he fell in love with the most beautiful country in the world and began to call Australia home.
By 1958, John bought the cafe where he was employed. He and his cousin were pioneers in the industry and were amongst the first in the region to import an espresso machine directly from Italy. The machine was custom made and cost twice the price of a brand new Holden motor car. At the time, it was a huge risk as tea was by far the more popular beverage. But John believed that demand for a great coffee would grow and soon people travelled from far and wide to experience his genuine 'espresso'.
By the 1960's, John moved to Sydney and bought the "American Coffee Lounge" on the concourse in Wynyard Railway Station. This coffee lounge was more in the style of a Viennese Coffee House and he was one of the first to cafes to introduce air-conditioning which was a novel and expensive indulgence at the time. But like his original espresso machine, it was never about the money, it was about the experience. His new cafe had several grinders, a custom made 4 group espresso machine with two separate boilers and 9 different varieties of roasted beans from around the world for his clients to select. Selling over 240 kgs of coffee per week the machine was so busy that it needed to be manned by two baristas. Even by today's standards, with all our pre-occupation with coffee and celebrity baristas, you would be hard pressed to find a larger choice of beans anywhere.
Until his retirement, John has owned and operated some of Sydney's most iconic institutions ranging from 70 seats to 850 seats from the CBD, Double Bay and The Rocks. John thought it would be great to retire after 58 years in hospitality, however he soon realised how much he missed the industry and his customers and decided to come out of retirement. He hopes that he can share his new journey with you.
Since 1958, John has been using only the best Australian ingredients; local, organic and sustainable wherever possible.