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The Sassy Bean's Tony Zammit, going from Barista to Attorney

The Lismore App

Lara Leahy

08 July 2024, 8:01 PM

The Sassy Bean's Tony Zammit, going from Barista to AttorneyTony Zammit, the owner of Sassy Bean, making up a brew.

Tony Zammit is swapping his brew for the bar - to pursue his plan to practise law.

Tony owns the popular cafe, The Sassy Bean, in the Homeco shopping complex where Spotlight and BCF can be found. He guarantees, “good food, good coffee and bad jokes.”

Tony has been managing The Sassy Bean for six years through drought, pandemic and flood, and he is ready to follow a plan that has been put off due to those same issues. 

Tony's safety net has always been cafes, which he has owned for over 30 years. “The Sassy Bean has been the best café because of the great income, great staff and amazing clientele", he said.

(Sassy Beans counter, and Cheryl, Sassy Bean's greatest asset)

All of Tony’s staff go through his special training that allows them to understand the people that they are helping. 

Some of Tony’s most loyal customers are older people who frequent Spotlight. He loves their anecdotes and knows his returning customers by name.  

“One lady that has worked for me for three and a half years is 72 and her main job is liaising with the older clientele. They love it. Cheryl is my greatest asset," Tony enthused.

Tony has a passion for what he offers to people. His food is prepared and displayed so they are identical. His coffee is a special blend he gets made up for his business.

Perfecting the art of pies has been a passion of Tony’s. From ensuring his freshly cooked on-site pies don’t have soggy bottoms, to using vine-ripened tomatoes in his special recipe for Tomato Onion Pies, which he ensures are “the best in Lismore.”

“The story behind that pie is when I was ten years old and we went up to the Dandenong mountains in Victoria, and we stopped at a little bakery and got me a tomato and onion pie. 

“I have never been able to find a tomato onion pie that was as good my whole life growing up, right? And about 20 years ago, I decided I wanted to start making pies,” needless to say, he has spent quite a bit of time perfecting the recipe…

“We run at 100% zero wastage. Unless it's burnt or lands on the floor,” Tony says with a smile, “That's part of my business model that I've built over the years. 

“Zero waste means more profit. More profit means better products. Better products mean more customers and more customers need better staff, and better staff use zero waste. That's the circle that I go by.”

Zero waste means making all the food count. So when the food that comes in has an excess, it finds its way into another product - hence extra spinach went into Spinoooch (with three o’s), or the Sassy version of Spinach quiche.

Tony survived the 2022 floods by just “hanging in there”. He knew how successful the café was, he just had to get it “back on track”.

“19 months ago, when we first opened over the Christmas period, it just exploded, and then afterwards it died, and we struggled from week to week. We had 19 people here before the floods.  

“We have built back up slowly, but we have 8 or 9 girls here even though the café has grown, and we are five times the size of what we were.”

Tony intends to sell The Sassy Bean café to pursue law. He has a couple of interested people making enquiries, so call in soon as he may not be around for too long. Or if you have ever hankered for a café lifestyle on the other side of the table, ask Tony about the details.

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