Melbourne Coffee Culture Pioneer Returns To Where It All Began

Posted on 24th April 2020

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Renowned Melbourne coffee institution St. ALi will begin serving caffeine-craving students and staff of the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music, representing owner Salvatore Malatesta’s return to where it all began.

James Lockwood and Rick Berry of Fitzroys negotiated the long eight-year lease for the 16sqm hole-in-the-wall with a 56sqm outdoor deck area on behalf of the University of Melbourne.

“We utilised our extensive hospitality database to undertake a targeted approach to quality coffee operators, which resulted in lease negotiations with St. ALi within 24 hours of the space hitting the market,” Lockwood said.

Fitzroys manages the retail component on behalf of University of Melbourne across numerous campuses. The space is one of a number of brand-new food and beverage tenancies Fitzroys has been marketing in the heart of the Melbourne arts precinct on behalf of the University in line with the its $200 million campus transformation of the Victorian College of the Arts and the Conservatorium of Music, creating the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music.

“St. Ali operating at the University’s arts campus represents a remarkable collaboration between leaders of two of Melbourne’s cultural touchstones - its arts scene and its coffee,” Lockwood said.

“The space offers a huge and appreciative catchment within the Melbourne arts precinct, where ongoing redevelopment will cement its position as the cultural hub of Australia.”

Malatesta’s involvement in the coffee industry began in earnest in 1996.

“I opened my original coffee cart at the University of Melbourne when I was a student, so we are very excited for St ALi to be heading back to where it all started, and feel there is great synergy of the sustainability principles that both the University and the St ALi brand represent,” Malatesta said.

St. ALi’s first site opened in South Melbourne in 2005. Since then, St. Ali and Malatesta have led coffee’s third-wave movement, characterised by single-origin, specialty coffee and artisanal production and sustainable practices, putting them at the forefront of Melbourne’s renowned coffee culture that has made its way across the world. The brand has established a presence in London, New York and Jakarta.

In recent times, Malatesta has been involved in the establishment of the Barista Hustle online coffee course, while St. ALi has teamed up with German auto giant Mercedes Benz for the first Mercedes me concept store in Australia, which opened on Collins Street in November following a new location at Melbourne Airport. St. ALi also runs the Sensory Lab specialty coffee outlet.

Other deals recently concluded by Fitzroys for the University include the main café at Southbank Campus, to be opened late 2020, and event bar and foyer in the new Conservatorium of Music, Axil Coffee at the new Webs building at the Parkville Campus, and Mr Ed Café at the Werribee Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences Campus, by Four 10 Hospo Group who also run Leroy’s Café in Newport.

New buildings on the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music campus include Buxton Contemporary, a museum and educational facility housing contemporary Australian art and the converted, heritage-listed old police Stables at Southbank, which has been transformed into a new visual arts and performance space.

The centrepiece is The Ian Potter Southbank Centre, a new home for the Conservatorium, a nine-storey, $109 million building designed by award-winning architect John Wardle.