The Story of Sans Souci's Gem: Cafe Bella Dee

16 July, 2020

Stella and Dimitri are brother and sister. Growing up, to everyone who knew them, they were Stella and Dimitri, everyone except their mother. To her, they were Bella and Dee, names of affection which now lend themselves to Sans Souci’s prize café, Café Bella Dee.

The question of where Bella Dee would take form was less a question of where, and more a question of ‘where in Sans Souci.’ “We grew up in Sans Souci, and from a young age we would always drive past what was at times a lonely vacant little corner shop, and I would always say to my Dad, ‘that shop would be amazing as a café’.

At 23 years old Stella was at a decisional crossroads. Her career as an accountant was in its infancy. It paid the bills and promised security, but there was a distinct absence of passion. Creativity is one of Stella’s gifts and a trait of value in many professions, but accounting is not one of them. “When that shop came up for rent, it was at a time where I was unsure of my career path. My Dad took me to see it, just to ‘humour’ me more than anything. As a product of coincidence or fate, “I signed the lease and the rest is history”.

“We established the shop from scratch with no prior experience, just sheer passion for creatively good food”

2020 is the tenth year of Bella Dee’s existence, and it stands as an affirmation and testament of the power of conviction and perseverance. Whether it be inner-city or outer suburbs, the Sydney café industry is competitive and indiscriminately ruthless. Stella was a 23 year-old accountant and Dimitri a 21 year old hairdresser. The circumstance was a pessimist’s feast. “We established the shop from scratch with no prior experience, just sheer passion for creatively good food.” Today, Bella Dee acts as a social hub for Sans Souci locals, but has also succeeded in drawing brunch-seekers from the wider area and cross-city, often looking to get up-close to a kaleidoscopic dish seen on social media channels. 

“We both operate differently and bring different things to the table”

Family and business can be a dicey combination, and Stella acknowledges there are “some interesting times”. However, there exists a defined delineation of duties which aids in the relationship being both convivial and effective. “We both operate differently and bring different things to the table. I look after anything and everything behind the scenes, including menu design and socials. My brother is an amazing barista and manages staff and the day to day running of the shop.”

The brunch offering at Bella Dee is that of the quintessential modern Sydney Café. Colour is king, and each dish a bursting collage. “The more colour I integrate the better. It makes a good quality dish even more desirable. After all, we eat first with our eyes.” Bella Dee has earned a reputation for stunning pancakes. Amongst the notable releases has been the Twirl Caramilk and Lotus Biscoff Stacks.

Photography: Justine Donnelly of @justin_time2eat

Cafe Bella Dee

MON TO FRI : 7AM - 230PM

SAT & SUN : 8AM - 230PM

36 Tuffy Avenue, San Souci

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