Melburnians share stories of Pellegrini's Sisto Malaspina on Reddit

The espresso bar owner was loved by many throughout the city.

The dust is slowly settling over the situation in Bourke Street Mall on Friday afternoon. While those who were hospitalised appear to be in a stable condition, Melbourne lost a man loved and known by many throughout the city and beyond: Owner of Pellegrini's Espresso Bar, Sisto Malaspina.

Over the weekend, Melbournians shared their experiences with Pellegrini's and its charismatic owner on Reddit — and there were many stories to share. Here are some of the tributes shared on Reddit.

Reddit user aliocroc:

"Met my wife in Melbourne and we met Sisto on one of our first dates looking for a late night coffee. He knew we were dating and did his best to embarrass us & poke fun. Have been going ever since and bring our kids there. It's heartbreaking to lose a gent such as Sisto, he was always so full of love and acceptance for all. We'd visit, he'd tease the kids, he'd make us laugh and wish us well, & he'd be the exact same to the next customers who took our place. Won't be the same without him."

Reddit user jp005128:

"There are countless late night spaghetti bolognese and affogatos after gigs and theatre shows but my main memory was coming in teary, puffy-eyed and broken-hearted and having Sisto feed me bread, pasta and strudel and told me that men will always be fickle but pasta will love me."

Reddit user Boggaz:

"My Dad took me first when I was about 13. Coffee and a slice of dessert. It had a great Italian connection for us both. Unchanged for the better part of half a century. Dad loved to point out the sign that said "if you order a latte, that's exactly what you'll get" and he told the story of people he'd see getting served milk when they made that mistake. I started making a ritual of going there whenever I was on Bourke St. Just a coffee most times, but sometimes a plate of pasta if the occasion called.

And always Sisto. With his big brassy voice chatting to the patrons and giving them a great time. Ribbing couples on dates, playing up charming women, who would be in fits of giggles or with big broad grins. He made the place what it is. It was the perfect place for a date and he made that so. I sometimes imagined him pulling out an accordion and singing "Bella Notte" from Lady and the Tramp. This is a great tragedy."

Reddit user custardgun:

"Been there many times over the past 20 years, but took my kids along for their first visit a few months ago, near the end of winter. When we left and were walking up Bourke Street, we saw Sisto come out and give a homeless guy a hot container of minestrone. [The] homeless guy said 'my favourite!' and Sisto clapped him on the shoulder like an old mate. I'll never forget that act of friendship and generosity, and I hope my kids don't either. RIP champion."

Reddit user ragesome:

"Sisto was an old friend of my Dad (we're also Italian). As a kid I remember always going there before Friday night Carlton games at the G. We would get dinner and Sisto would make me watermelon granita. When I was a teenager, I would bring friends to the restaurant and we all sat out the back in the kitchen and ate bolognese and of course, granitas. Sisto only ever charged us like $10 each. I actually went in a few weeks ago for an espresso — the first time in prob 10 years (I have been living overseas and don't work in the CBD) — Sisto still remembered me. Big smile as always. RIP, mate, thanks for everything, the city is lesser without you."