It’s the classic tale of rags to riches – or more accurately the dishwasher who now owns the successful cafe in Fitzroy.
Named after a French naval officer who famously used his precious water rations to nurture his coffee plants, De Clieu has recently re-opened under the new ownership of Pierre Equipart and Tony Orfanidis.
Before moving home to France to pursue a career in logistics, Equipart was a keen young dishwasher in De Clieu’s kitchen. A change in De Clieu’s management later, Equipart returned to Australia and bought the café alongside Orfanidis, with the ambition to restore it to its “former glory”.
“We want to bring back old favourites, as well as new and exciting menu options coupled with Market Lane coffee,” explains Equipart with enthusiasm.
“De Clieu was initially created by Seven Seeds coffee, and the team there have been really supportive in the past. Now, several cafes in Gertrude Street are serving Seven Seeds and we all agreed that it was best for everyone not to do the same.
“Market Lane supplies absolutely amazing coffee and when we met them last year they made us feel really confident our collaboration could work well,” says Equipart.
Five of the current twenty dishes on the menu are “original” De Clieu creations, but Equipart says they were conscious of not making the whole menu about nostalgia. Locals will be pleased to see the return of dishes like the the Bershire pork neck with Tonkatsu sauce, which has been previously voted in the Herald Sun’s top 25 breakfast dishes in Melbourne.
The café itself may not be the biggest but it is welcoming, with a long counter running through the majority of the space. Easily the best feature are the wide, open windows that double as bench space for customers to perch in, while they enjoy a coffee and watch the rhythm of Fitzroy pass by. If a table is more your thing, the staff are very accommodating and will offer coffee while you wait for real estate to become available during busy weekend periods.
187 Gertrude St,
Fitzroy VIC 3065