Late last Thursday, May 9, Ralph Panebianco, owner of the eponymous Ralph’s Café on Camperdown campus, sadly passed away.
Since its opening in 1984, Ralph’s has developed into a campus institution and is well regarded for the quality of its coffee, which has set it apart from other campus vendors. What was originally a standard menu of pastries and cakes evolved over the years to include a range of gourmet home-baked bread options and sandwiches. It’s said that this culinary change was prompted by a trip overseas, which inspired Ralph to change the direction of the foods on offer.
Ralph was not just the namesake of his café, or the guy who sold you your coffee. At Sydney Uni Ralph was a legend who could go by his first name only. Known for his booming voice, which drew in curious minds and passers-by, Ralph was warm, chatty, and funny, but terrifying if you didn’t have your money ready. He knew his customers and sponsored Sydney Uni’s sport teams. Ralph was a permanent installation in the café, involved in its daily operations, and made a lasting mark on the local community. He was a larger than life personality, delightfully Italian, and a Sydney University icon.
A feature of Ralph’s cafe was the constant presence of his family: his wife and three children were also involved in the running of the establishment. Our thoughts are now with his family, and the many others in the University community who will miss him.
You can farewell Ralph this Friday May 17. At 1:20pm the hearse will do a lap of honour around the Square with a moment of silence. The funeral service will be held at St Mary’s Cathedral at 2:30pm.