Episode 2: Mei Quong Tart – The entrepreneur who started Sydney’s first cafes
Mei Quong Tart was one of the most recognised figures in Sydney during the late 1800s. He was an entrepreneur and philanthropist – and most importantly, he opened Sydney’s very first cafes. Yes, we owe our fantastic cafe culture to a Chinese immigrant who spoke with a Scottish accent.
We know a lot about the life and works of Mei Quong Tart because he was so prominent and well-respected. He had a string of successful businesses – and you can still see some of the facades of his cafes around Sydney today. He also had a social conscience at a time when that wasn’t in vogue – he treated his employees well and hosted suffragette meetings.
His life was tragically cut short in a botched robbery but his legacy lives on in cafes and tea rooms across the city.
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Quong Tart inside the Loong Shan Tea rooms. (n.d.). Retrieved from Sydney Living Museums: https://blogs.sydneylivingmuseums.com.au/cook/ladies-who-lunched/attachment/9056/
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The man who brought cafe society to town. (2003, July 18). The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved from https://www.smh.com.au/national/the-man-who-brought-cafe-society-to-town-20030718-gdh477.html
Who was Quong Tart? (n.d.). Retrieved from State Library of NSW: https://www.sl.nsw.gov.au/learning/who-was-quong-tart