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Kings Cross Institution Piccolo Bar Is Set to Transform Into a 12-Seater Aperitivo Venue

It's claiming the title of 'Sydney's smallest bar'.
By Ben Hansen
June 09, 2021
By Ben Hansen
June 09, 2021

Approaching its 70th birthday, Piccolo Bar is set to be revitalised as a licensed aperitivo spot under the guidance of Bartender magazine founder, Dave Spanton. Located just off the Kings Cross main strip on Roslyn Street, Piccolo Bar served as a late-night cafe and nightlife spot from 1952. But, following years of difficult lockout laws and the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kings Cross institution closed its doors.

Now, Spanton is leasing the bar from long-time owner Vittorio Bainchi, with plans to reopen in August this year. For Spanton, it was a no-brainer when he saw the beloved venue was up for lease.

"My accountant thinks it's a crazy idea," he jokes. "But there's more to life than money, and I just couldn't stand to see this place disappear."

The writer and entrepreneur has also secured the venue's first-ever liquor license. Sitting at a small but mighty 20 square metres, the bar will hold 12 seats indoors and eight outdoors. Come 10pm, the outdoor seating will be packed away making Piccolo Bar one of Sydney's smallest drinking holes.

Piccolo Bar is tipped to serve up a curated drinks list, including ten to fifteen classic cocktails alongside a modest selection of quality wines and champagne. Spanton says the menu is a pragmatic result of the venue's limited space, but he hopes to eventually make the bar's signature drink the humble aperitivo. Accompanying the drinks list will be a selection of bar snacks, paninis and locally-sourced cheese.

The bar's interior will be refreshed, with a conscious effort to maintain Piccolo Bar's original look and feel. Locals will be familiar with the large photo wall that was adorned with historic photographs and well-known faces. While Spanton is determined to maintain this element of the bar, he's had a bit of trouble tracking down the original photography.

Image: Kings Cross Mardi Gras 2019, Destination NSW.

"Over the years they've lost a lot of their historic shots and photos. They've just disappeared," Spanton says. "What I have done is spend a small fortune on eBay getting as many historic shots from the area and people that visited the place."

Piccolo Bar's reopening will come during a crossroad point for Kings Cross. Following the slow rollback of the lockout laws that ended in March this year, neighbouring Kings Cross suburb Potts Point has been going through somewhat of a renaissance in recent years with the opening of several new restaurants from high-end French bistros to beloved Japanese outposts.

Spanton believes Piccolo Bar can play an important role in the return of the area. "We wanted to make sure we called ourselves Kings Cross because over the last ten years, because of the lockouts, Kings Cross has become a bit of a dirty word. Especially for venues. Everyone's calling themselves Potts Point. That's fair enough, but we want to put a bit of pride into the name Kings Cross."

He hopes Kings Cross can return to its days of "amazing venues, great bars and great hotels, where the rockstars would come and stay" and the way to this is through a wide-spanning range of day and night businesses.

"I think the future for this place to work will be a broader mix of small bars, restaurants, cafes and kind of boutique shops, which I think Potts Point is doing a really good job of. I think that's something will flow on to more of the Cross."

Renovations on Piccolo Bar begin this week. The bar is expected to open mid-August in 2021.

Published on June 09, 2021 by Ben Hansen

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