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Rest in peace Cafe Azzuri

The popular crepe cafe is no more.

Goodbye, old friend.

A crepe sized hole has been left in the heart of the Jane Foss Russell Plaza, with Azzuri shutting up and moving out over the summer break. After a history spanning two campus locations and over 20 years, Azzuri faithfuls have been left bereft. 

Azzuri was more than your average campus crepe place. The no man’s land between the SRC and the the offices of the Student Affairs Unit, Azzurri was a place where student activists and university management could mingle as they waited for their crepes and coffee. As the primary source of coffee for SRC staff and office bearers, it seemed as much a part of the organisation as we were. At all times up to date with the latest gossip and scandal, its staff provided de-facto emotional support through the most turbulent times of the year. It was also the only cafe open on weekends on the SRC side of City road. 

Azzuri spent its later years embroiled in various controversies. In 2014, the Sydney Local Health District found that a batch of chicken liver pâté from the pork roll section of the business had caused 21 confirmed cases of salmonella. In a comment to Honi at the time of the controversy, Azzuri’s owner Nick Ana said “I offer my heartfelt apology to the people that fell ill. My overwhelming priority is to ensure this does not occur in my operation again.” The USU ordered the closure of Bun Me until the resolution of the health district investigation, but it never reopened. Azzuri was named and shamed on the NSW food authority website, and it went on as a simple crepe cafe. 

In 2015 the USU threatened the cafe with eviction. Though the reasons for this were never made public, we can only assume they had something to do with the salmonella outbreak in the year prior. Azzuri took the USU to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal, and accused the union of “rough tactics”. After an urgent NCAT hearing, Azzuri was safe once more.

The USU closed and locked the side door of the cafe in that same year, sparking an extended battle that was eventually resolved by the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal in 2017. The USU alleged that smells coming from the cooking operations of the cafe were “noxious”, and Azzuri complained that the locked door had resulted in a lack of business. Eventually, the doors were unlocked and Azzuri fought on. 

There were other fights, too. A disagreement over whether a burger could, for the purposes of complying with a lease agreement, technically be considered a sandwich. Complaints over the opening of a competing cafe in the Wentworth building. Azzuri and the USU had a tumultuous relationship, one where the USU described its crepes as “must try!” on their website, whilst simultaneously claiming that said crepes were the cause of noxious smells. 

In the end, it wasn’t the salmonella or the noxious smells that dealt the fatal blow to the University of Sydney’s most popular crepe cafe. It was a simple case of human error. After more than 20 years of faithful service, Azzuri forgot to renew their lease by the USU deadline. Vale. 

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