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New café pops up in Lot Fourteen’s old chapel

The Forager

A new pop-up café has opened this week in the decommissioned chapel at Lot Fourteen on the old Royal Adelaide Hospital site.

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Angelo Velardo, owner of Hyde Park Pizza Bar, and his sister Lorenza, who has a small home-delivery meal business, won the short-term contract to operate the café after Renewal SA sought applications to trial a pop-up enterprise that would service the demands of Lot Fourteen’s “existing and future tenants, contractors and visitors” over the next six months.

Mangiasti café operates in the same location as the Lot’s regular Hello Fridays drinks and music events and is something of a beacon amid the rabbit warren of old RAH buildings (there’s a map here that will help you find it).

The former chapel building has a distinctly retro feel, complete with stained-glass windows, high timber-panelled ceiling and herringbone floor, with splashes of colour (mainly pink and red), framed posters, beanbags and a table football game adding to the vibe.

“It’s called Mangiasti, which is a slang word that means ‘Have you eaten?’, so there is definitely an abundance of food,” says Lorenza Velardo.

Mangiasti is open from 8am until 3pm, and the pair have drawn on both their Italian heritage and their experience working in hospitality to come up with a breakfast and lunch menu of what Angelo describes as “proven Italian café food”, including focaccia, bagels, salads, soup, pizza slices and sweets (such as Sicilian cannoli). There is also, of course, good coffee.

In addition to the Hyde Park Pizza Bar, Angelo Velardo operates Espresso Caffettiera Coffee Carts, which have previously serviced the Lot Fourteen site.

“We just love the fact that there’s nothing around here,” Lorenza says of the location.

“Once Angelo was there with the coffee carts, everyone was asking him if he was going to have food, and if he wasn’t there for a week they’d be messaging asking if he was coming back.

“So it was a no-brainer for us to be here. And then when I saw the chapel, it’s just so beautiful – we can have that kind of retro feel but also with a modern vibe inside of it which I guess is what Lot Fourteen is all about.”

The Mangiasti menu includes salads, with soups to be added as the weather gets colder. Photo: Tony Lewis

Food for the café is being handmade on site and at Hyde Park Pizza by both Lorenza and her father Rocco, who she says has extensive experience in catering and running restaurants.

“He’s retired but for us he’ll do anything!”

Renewal SA describes Lot Fourteen as a 7ha “innovation neighbourhood”, and says the current tenants, as well as contractors working on the site, are giving Mangiasti a warm welcome.

Tenant numbers are expected to grow to more than 1000 by September 2019, and the Velardos are hoping that their café will also draw customers from surrounding precincts, including University of Adelaide students and nearby workers.

“We’re trying to draw everyone that’s within a couple of kilometres … anyone who’s on foot or can ride one of the electric scooters in,” says Angelo.

“I think once we start getting some foot traffic and people know we’re here, we’ll do well.”

If the pop-up café proves successful, they will have the opportunity to apply to operate a permanent business elsewhere on the Lot Fourteen site.

Renewal SA says the chapel building itself – which was dedicated in 1970 and officially decommissioned in August 2017 – will be demolished as part of the North Wing/Residential Wing demolition package of works on the site.

“This will likely will be contracted in the second half of this year, with a demolition date to be confirmed following the appointment of the successful tenderer.”


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