27 September 2022

Blue and gold shame for Manly-loving Riverina cafe owner

| Oliver Jacques
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Anthony Vecchio with Parramatta jersey.

Station 4 Cafe owner Anthony Vecchio despises NRL club Parramatta. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

When Penrith thrashed Parramatta in the first round of the National Rugby League (NRL) finals series, diehard Griffith-based Manly supporter Anthony Vecchio breathed a sigh of relief.

“I hate Parramatta. I thought there’s no way in hell they’ll make the grand final. I had a bet with a Parra supporter, I said, ‘I’ll wear the [blue and gold] jersey while working [in the lead-up to the grand final]’,” Mr Vecchio said.

“But the jersey he provided didn’t fit me so I’ve agreed to hang it up here in my cafe [Station 4 in Griffith]. I hate having it up and here and can’t wait to pull it down.”

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Parramatta and Manly have been fierce rivals in the NRL since Manly defeated Parramatta in the 1976 grand final, denying the western Sydney club its first premiership. Parramatta would go on to exact revenge the following decade, beating Manly in the deciders of the 1982 and 1983 seasons. However, the club has faced a long drought since its glory days of the 1980s, having failed to win a premiership in 36 years.

“The [drought] is going to continue. They won’t be able to beat Penrith … I hope they cop a flogging this weekend,” Mr Vecchio said.

Mr Vecchio is well known in the Riverina cafe scene, having worked in hospitality for the past 35 years. He was previously an owner of Wagga’s Italian restaurant Il Corso, which closed its doors in 2021. He was also involved with Griffith’s Giuseppe’s Restaurant and Bar before starting his newest venture in Griffith at the worst possible time, opening Station 4 Cafe and Bar in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was a tough, tough, tough year during COVID. We had the window open out the front where we could do takeaway, we had minimal staff … but we made a few changes and kept our doors open.

“The biggest problem we have in this industry is staff … the cooks and chefs and kitchen staff are very hard to find. Front of house is OK, there was a period where we had backpackers all the time but I haven’t seen a backpacker in months.”

Cilla Pavese at cafe

Station 4 Cafe’s Cilla Pavese does not like her photo taken. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

Station 4 Cafe is one of the few eateries in Griffith open seven days a week. Mr Vecchio rarely has days off.

“I get one Sunday off a year, which is for Bathurst [Supercars race]. I ask people not to disturb me that day, but we are still open.”

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They’ll be no respite for the cafe owner, as he plans to extend the venue’s trading hours.

“I have ordered a pizza oven, it’s in a boat somewhere between Italy and Australia right now. Once it arrives we’re going to be open for dinner three or four nights a week. That should be in about five or six weeks’ time.”

Station 4 Cafe and Bar is at 252 Banna Ave. It’s open from 7 am to 3 pm Monday to Sunday.

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