Meet Mick, Jo, Drew and Pete. Remember them as they will remember you. “It’s good to go somewhere everyone knows your name,” explains Mick Bruzzese, fashion photographer by day, part business owner by night. “Jo and I would go for our coffees in the morning and you wouldn’t really get the service that you wanted. Nobody would remember your name or your coffee. Jo said if we ever opened somewhere we would remember their name and their coffee.”
Mick, Jo and Drew are Manly-born brothers of Italian descent while Pete, who grew up in New Zealand, is a friend and expert barman. Together they have created Belgrave Cartel, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. “We pay the rent for 24 hours,” jokes Mick, “so we figured we may as well make the most of it!” On opening they started with a second hand coffee machine and Mum was doing the cooking, essentially classic Italian recipes, like ragu and arancini. It was an extension of a hole in the wall coffee hut and has now evolved into a chameleon of a place, changing its character throughout the day. It’s a local spot, slightly off the tourist track, a place where locals can meet whether it be the hour for coffee or vino, or both, and listen to music in a ‘chilled out, friendly environment’.
One of the establishment’s most popular features is the bar/back room, dubbed the ‘Tuscan bomb shelter’, eclectic in style with a relaxed underground charm. The quartet’s local commitment is strong, from the Cartel Culture Club Installation, where every month a new exhibition showcasing a local artist is mounted on the walls through its local music nights to a rooftop urban beehive which they hope to evolve into a sustainable service.
It’s the personal touch which lends Belgrave Cartel it’s true distinction. “When people come here we want them to feel like they are a part of the place, like how you feel like when you go home. When we first started there was nowhere like this,” explains Mick. “When someone tells you they love the food and the place, that keeps you motivated to keep going and try harder. To work for yourself is the best, if you want to do something you do something, the harder you work the more gains are for you not for someone else.”
“We are established now as a local place to hang out,” adds Mick. “Just four guys trying to have a go. We are hospitable, we have a pretty good product, the place is pretty cool. We like making people happy.” And they will remember your name.
Address 6 Belgrave St, Manly
Phone (02) 9976 6548
Mon-Fri 6am -2pm
Wed-Fri 6am – late
Sat 7am – late
Sun 7am – 10pm