7 June 2023

Appetite for a challenge sees Belvedere besties revive Griffith's Ulong Street cafe scene

| Oliver Jacques
Join the conversation
two young women behind their cafe bar

Formidable foodies Lisa Senatore and Maria Sergi are best friends and now business partners. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

Maria Sergi, the owner of Griffith’s oldest restaurant, Belvedere, has teamed up with best friend and waitress Lisa Senatore to reopen popular sandwich and salad bar Cafe Deli.

Ulong Street once buzzed with two busy eateries, with family-owned O’Donnells Cafe opposite Cafe on U, which was replaced by Cafe Deli. Both establishments closed in the past few years, the latter finally revived by the Belvedere duo in May 2023.

Ms Sergi, 35, who now manages three businesses alongside her household of three children aged five, eight and 11, explained why she decided to branch out.

“I wasn’t going to do it on my own,” she said. “I also do catering and functions out of the Hanwood Club. Lisa does a lot of the management of Belvedere, ordering and managing staff and that sort of thing. When the opportunity came up, we had a chat about it and she said she’d like to venture into her own business. I said if she was interested, we can do it together.”

READ ALSO Griffith’s first souvlaki shop opens permanently after December drama

Ms Senatore, 30, also a mum to a five-year-old, is enjoying her transition from Belvedere waitress to cafe co-owner.

“It’s totally different to Belvedere,” she said. “Here people decide what we make. You select the breads, the ingredients and fill them up with whatever you want.

“It’s a juggle [balancing work and motherhood], but we’re used to not getting much sleep anyway. We have always bounced off each other for help.”

two young women outside their cafe

Ulong Street now has an eatery for the first time in 12 months. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

Cafe Deli is now open from 7:30 am to 2 pm Monday to Friday and 8:30 am to 2 pm on Saturday.

“We wanted to get the salad bar set up before we get into preparing meals,” Ms Sergi said.

“We’ll be doing a dine-in breakfast after the June long weekend.”

Belvedere stalwart Maria Bianchini, Griffith’s longest-serving waitress, is proud of the new business venture by her boss and colleague.

“I admire both of them, they are great hard workers, and I love the fact that two mums have set up a business that will work around their children. I am just sad that I now don’t see them much, because we are all busy in separate shops, but I love them both and miss their happy faces.”

READ ALSO ‘The town’s mum’: Griffith’s longest-serving waitress reflects on 43 years in the job

Her namesake Maria Sergi had no hesitation when asked to recommend a must-try on Cafe Deli’s menu.

“The homemade focaccia is something I’d definitely recommend. My mum [Mary Macadone] makes it, it’s really good.

“We wouldn’t be able to do this without the support of all our family and staff. I have my sister helping me, I have the chef that comes down and does breakfast and then he goes back to Belvedere.”

Ms Senatore said: “We had a vision and we did it. When we set our minds to something, we just do it.”

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

Daily Digest

Want the best Riverina news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riverina stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.