Jones would find a welcome partner in Caralis to take on Hadley. Just over a decade ago Hadley got stuck into Caralis on air after he leapt to Laws’ defence following an earlier mauling by Hadley.
Caralis later said of Hadley, the former taxi driver turned radio star: “I have never before been subjected to such a low and cheap attack, the bloke is off the planet and his ego is totally out of control”.
Scusi? But exactly what is happening at Bar Coluzzi?
With more than 60 years service to the coffee aficionados of Sydney, the new owner of iconic cafe Bar Coluzzi is adamant that, despite recent and rather colourful dramas, the institution favoured by everyone from high court judges and soap stars to underworld king pins, is here to stay.
Wendy Gilbert-Grey took over the Bar Coluzzi name and business last month, and promptly moved the cafe which had been trading for 49 years on the same site in Darlinghurst to the shop next door, which had previously been occupied by the rival cafe Latteria.
Interestingly, Gilbert-Grey is the wife of Bar Coluzzi’s previous owner Tibor Vertes, whom the Herald revealed last April had been fined close to $100,000 after an employee was allegedly forced to pay back thousands of dollars in wages as part of a cashback scheme.
At some point after that scandal Vertes left the business, handing over the reins and lease to Alex Haege, who ultimately fell out with Bar Coluzzi’s long-term landlord, Sydney property developer Isaac Arbib, over rent. Haege handed over the business and the Bar Coluzzi name to Vertes’ wife, Gilbert-Grey.
Gilbert-Grey admitted to PS she had limited experience running a cafe, confirming she owns Edgecliff’s Bodymechanique weight loss, hair removal and beauty clinic, which boasts supermodel Miranda Kerr among her clients.
Gilbert-Grey said it was now time for a new chapter for Bar Coluzzi, and with a new landlord charging her half the rent of what Bar Coluzzi’s previous owner Haege had been paying Arbib.
However Arbib denied this, saying he had negotiated with Haege and made a 40 per cent reduction in rent over the term of the lease, only to discover last month, while he was overseas, his tenant had moved out without warning, claiming he was owed two months’ rent.
“I wish I changed the locks before, they cleared everything out, including all the memorabilia,” Arbib told PS.
For weeks now the drama has been played, quite literally, out on Victoria Street.
Arbib has posted copies of emails in the former Bar Coluzzi windows, revealing the stoush with Heage over rent. The heavily redacted email from Heague to Arbib indicates he would not be renewing the lease.
Another notice sits next to it from a solicitor acting on behalf of Arbib saying: “This shop has been repossessed by the landlord due to the tenant not paying their rent for the last two months.”
Arbib told PS he was hoping to renovate the premises and open a new cafe on the site of the old Bar Coluzzi, further fanning the flames by confirming he had been talking to Coluzzi descendent, Paula Coluzzi, about coming on board and running it in what could soon become a Coluzzi versus Coluzzi battle.
Haege did not respond to PS’s calls this week, but according to Gilbert-Grey, her latest version of Bar Coluzzi has a much brighter future.
“We shut down at the old site at 3pm, packed everything up and moved about a metre along the street and re-opened the next morning right next door … we didn’t skip a beat when it came to service. No one had their coffee delayed,” Gilbert-Grey proudly boasted to PS.
For decades Bar Coluzzi’s original founder, former boxing champion Luigi “Gigi” Coluzzi, hosted a cavalcade of Sydney’s luminaries in his tiny cafe.
In 2014 Coluzzi died, aged 84.
A testament to his popularity, Gigi’s funeral was attended by ABC radio presenter Ian “Macca” McNamara, former NSW Chief Justice Sir Laurence Street and Foxtel CEO David Hill, who gave a eulogy, describing Bar Coluzzi in the 1970s and 80s as feeling like the “centre of the universe”.
“It attracted such an array of colourful and wonderful and sometimes dubious personalities,” he said.
“You never knew on your way to work when you dropped into Coluzzi’s for your morning coffee who you were going to sit next to.
“It might be the great Australian painter Brett Whiteley or it might be the great Australian boxing champion Tony Mundine.”
Elton’s hunt for designer digs
It’s either the shoe collection or the wigs, or perhaps both, that is causing angst for some of Sydney’s prestige leasing agents when it comes to finding Sir Elton John and his family suitable digs to set up camp for three months later in the year.
PS hears John is looking for a very large home in Sydney’s swanky Point Piper and Vaucluse neighbourhoods, where he can base himself for the duration of his final tour of Australia.
The house will also need to accommodate John’s husband, David Furnish, and their two children Zachary and Elijah. Then there is the matter of the pop star’s entourage, which includes several bodyguards, a couple of round-the-clock nannies, chefs, hairdressers, stylists and personal assistants.
And making the search even harder is that John’s stay will coincide with an extended visit by the Irish supergroup U2. The four band members and their respective families are set to stay in Sydney during their Australian tour. And that means a mansion each.
As one real estate insider informed PS: “These guys are talking $10,000-a-night houses, there just isn’t that many of them available in Sydney.”
One house high on the wish list is the former Packer mansion in Vaucluse, however current owner Chau Chak Wing, who bought the joint for $70million in 2015, is understood to be less keen to turn the abode into the ultimate Airbnb.
Guys and dolls for honoured Ita
It was Barbie’s 60th birthday last Friday night and North Bondi Life Saving Club, bathed in magenta lights, was the perfect venue to celebrate the plastic doll’s milestone.
With Sydney’s celebrity rugrats kept busy in the ball pit and slippery dip, the grown-ups helped themselves to endless bubbly.
The usual cast of suspects turned up for their photo opportunities, including mother and daughter duo Roxy Jacenko and her hair bow mogul and designer “mini-me” Pixie.
But more than a few eyebrows were raised when newly installed ABC chairman Ita Buttrose arrived with her former jailbird nephew, the convicted cocaine dealer Richard Buttrose, by her side. It was a rare public sighting after he was jailed in 2010 after police found $10.8million worth of cocaine and $1.3million in cash at his home. Buttrose was released from prison in 2017.
But back to Barbie. Surrounded by youngsters, Ita, who is 17 years older than the doll, was also being honoured with her own Barbie “Ita” doll. Sadly, it’s not for sale.
Designer couple move on
Sad news from Sydney society darlings, architect Nick Tobias and his writer wife, the former model Miranda Darling, with confirmation their marriage has come to an end.
Tobias declined to comment when PS called this week, however it is understood the former couple remain friends and are focussed on raising their young sons.
The pair have been darlings on the Sydney cocktail circuit for years, a combination of good looks and sophisticated style, they were soon swept up in this town’s heady round of red carpet events.
Passionate art lovers, the couple were seemingly living a blessed life in Sydney.
Tobias, a successful architect, continues to run his practice out of Paddington. He remains living under the same roof as his former wife, who went on to become an author and is now producing a documentary about Farah Pahlavi, the wife of the the Shah of Iran, who was once dubbed “the Jackie Kennedy of the Middle East”. Pahlavi built one of the world’s best collections of modern art before she and her husband were exiled.
Finger pointing in work-of-fiction fallout
Whispers continue around Rupert Murdoch‘s Holt Street bunker some three weeks after The Daily Telegraph‘s recently installed editor Ben English was forced to publish an apology to Today co-host Georgie Gardner. He conceded his reporter Kris Crane‘s claims about supposedly unflattering “focus groups” on Gardner were a work of fiction.
Crane told PS on Thursday he was still “on leave”, having not returned to his newspaper desk since the contentious story ran. He maintained he was still an employee at the Tele. English did not return PS’s calls.
Meanwhile, the hunt is on to discover how the bogus story ever made it to print, with fingers being pointed at rivals over at the Seven Network, though when PS called the supposed culprit, the claims were vehemently and repeatedly denied.
Watch this space.
Andrew Hornery is a senior journalist and Private Sydney columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald.