In the haze of the late 1980s, I was transported from a yahoo Tasmanian town to the eclectic suburb of Fitzroy, Melbourne. Eager to wander the uncharted alleys of this bohemian city, little did I fathom that the Black Cat Cafe would emerge as my compass for extraordinary geographic and intellectual odysseys.
An enclave on Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, the Black Cat Cafe has been steadfast in the neighbourhood’s fabric since its genesis in 1982. The brainchild of the legendary Henry Maas and co, the cafe’s reputation soared on the wings of its European-style brew and Laminex tables. Its retro 1960s adornments further cocooned the space in an ambience of bohemia.
Figurine – Black Cat, Medium, Black Cat Cafe, Fitzroy, 2000. Museums Victoria Collections. Published 2023. Accessed July 23, 2023. https://collections.museumsvictoria.com.au/items/252936
Crossing the cafe’s threshold was akin to a universe apart, an alternate reality crafted by the seductive intermingling of lattes in glasses and bagels with blue vein cheese. It swiftly evolved into my sanctuary—the destination to revive my spirits and seek solace from banality’s embrace.
The Black Cat Cafe perched itself at the junction of Brunswick Street and Greeves Street in the fabulous Beswicke Terrace. An altar of observation, I sit by the window, latte in hand, peering out to witness the interplay of colours and characters that the Fitzroy conjures.
Photograph – Black Cat Cafe Interior, Fitzroy, 2000. Museums Victoria Collections. Published 2023. Accessed July 23, 2023. https://collections.museumsvictoria.com.au/items/1236450
Through epochs, the Black Cat Cafe has been the sentinel of Fitzroy’s metamorphosis—a silent witness to the emergence of new dreams, a sanctuary for an influx of bright minds, and a crucible of the neighbourhood’s evolution/demise. Yet, within this upheaval, the cafe remained resolute, its allure unchanged, where the tides of time washed old and new generations upon its shores.