Control Data Australia Memories compiled by Brian Membrey

Pepe's Pizza Kitchen

147 Commercial Road, South Yarra

Location

Northern side, around 40 metres east of the railway bridge.

Memories

This was the one addition to the archive emanating from the August, 2013 lunch.

I believe it became a regular lunch spot in the late 1970s and 1980s after I had left Control Data and may well have been the forerunner of later days at the Old Pepper, but I distinctly remember it as post-College Lawn late-night feed accompanied by the presence of our great friend of the time, L. K. Hole.

In fact, the outstanding (if that's the right word) recollection I have is after a heavy drinking session with ex-N.C.R. workmates where three disappeared over the back fence (the toilets were in the back yard) and after a suitable get-away time, the two of us that remained went up to the counter to tell them we had seen three customers trying to climb the fence. The staff rushed out to investigate, we casually wandered out the front door, also sans payment!

History

Although always known as Pepe's, the official name was Pepe's Pizza Kitchen, and when it opened in 1968, there was already a restaurant of that name in Fitzroy Street, St. Kilda.

Both restaurants disappeared from directories in 1980 - undoubtedly there would have been a connection, but to date, I haven't been able to determine whether they shared common ownership or alternatively were part of a planned chain that never quite got off the ground.

It was a rather small restaurant converted from a single-fronted confectionery and milk bar of earlier years, but we'll let Mike Spark's recollections tell the real story

"Firstly, I cannot recall who found Pepe's Pizza and got everyone from CDA to go there - if no-one else owns up, I'll take the blame, as usual!   Pepe's was owned and run by an Italian-descent guy, Frank, and his lovely Aussie wife.  We used to take over the narrow, long upstairs room if there were enough of us, otherwise we'd eat downstairs if only a few turned up.  They made their own chili sauce which was put in small jugs on the table, and self-applied to fit one's own "hot" taste. If you wanted Frank to put it on the pizza while cooking (the chili flavour infused better), you ordered a 'number X', X being from 1 to 10.  The latter would blow your mind and mouth, and not many managed to eat a full '10' - Ian Good, one of the Accountants,  was one such marvel, I recall. Personally, a #7 was enough to know that you had had a hot chili pizza!

After Frank (and Diane??) sold out to a couple of younger Aussie males who thought they knew everything, the service and the happy atmosphere went down, and we looked around for an alternative, finding the Red Pepper just around the corner in Chapel Street.  Parking in Chapel St. was near impossible, even then, but I do remember I had a knack of getting a park outside the front door with monotonous regularity, much to the chagrin of the other customers.

The Red Pepper may have been started by Rob de Fazio and a couple of mates, although Rob could have been a staff member when we first went there - he certainly became the manager and boss of the place".



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