Glebe has lost one of its most iconic institutions after flames consumed the popular Cafe Otto early last Wednesday morning.
A shocked community was left to lament the loss of a favourite haunt, as sombre passers-by surveyed the burnt-out shell with blank faces, while regulars and neighbours expressed their sadness and disbelief.
Cafe Otto employee Angela, who asked to be identified only by her first name, said she was shocked and devestated.
Many passers by also expressed sadness.
“We’ve been here a few times … it’s pretty devastating. I really feel for them, I really do,” said local resident Helen Alker.
For staff at the LJ Hooker office next door, Cafe Otto was a regular meeting place.
“I’m in shock. I saw it on the news this morning. I eat lunch there every day. I feel sorry for all the girls that lost their job – it’s terrible,” said LJ Hooker employee Natasha Anderson.
Colleague Kerry Voukidis concurred. “We used to go there quite often after work. We know them very well – we know the staff and the boss there,” she said.
Maureen Cahill, from Glass Artists’ Gallery across the road, said it had been an institution.
“I was up at 4am watching the fire … it’s going to be strange looking across the road and not seeing the people sitting outside,” she said.
Mary Pollat from Fountain 77 Ristorante said her business had only moved in next door a few weeks ago.
“We’re sad because it’s been here 20 years,” she said.
“[It’s] one of the best working restaurants in Glebe … the owner’s a lovely person and it’s really sad.”
President of the Glebe Chamber of Commerce, Paul Angell, said Cafe Otto would be sorely missed.
“A lot of people in Glebe love Cafe Otto,” he said.
“I hope they can get their insurance in order and come back and continue to be a member of our community.
“I’ve had many a great meal with friends at Cafe Otto. They held a very unique position in Glebe – we have lots of restaurants and lots of cafes, but somebody filling that middle ground between cafe and restaurant … Cafe Otto really filled that niche.”
Mr Angell said he was thankful no-one was injured.
He added he looked forward to seeing Cafe Otto reopen, but reminded both the community and visitors that in the meantime, Glebe had many great cafes still trading.
“We have some fantastic cafes in Glebe that really complemented Cafe Otto … we’re not bereft of cafes,” he said.
“There are other places in Glebe to go, just go to your next favourite because we’ve got a lot to offer.”