The Lindt cafe in Martin Place reopened this morning, three months after the fatal siege that shocked the nation.
The cafe has been closed and under construction since last December, when gunman Man Horan Monis held 18 people hostage for more than 16 hours. Cafe manager Tori Johnson and barrister Katrina Dawson were killed, along with Monis.
It was an emotional day for many, with memories of the siege flooding back to those who queued at the cafe’s entrance to show their support for Lindt and the siege victims. Only one of the survivors, Joel Herat, returned to work today. Another survivor, who asked not to be named, told the Newsroom he was still affected by the events that took place on December 15.
“I still have nightmares from that day,” he said.
“I always think about how I just went in to work as normal and ended up in that horrible situation.
“It’s great that Lindt is re-opening but right now, I have no plans to go back to work. I love the staff, they’re great friends and I will always support them, but I just want to move on with my life.”
Premier Mike Baird took a tour of the cafe and met with Mr Herat and the rest of the staff before it opened to the public at 10am.
Despite the grief, there was a sense of Sydney getting back to normal at Martin Place today.
Julie Brown, 53, who lives on the south coast, travelled to Sydney to meet a friend for coffee at the Lindt cafe.
“It was traumatic just watching it, watching what these people went through, and to think it happened in our country,” Mrs Brown said of the siege.
She told the Newsroom she was happy to see the cafe reopen.
“It’s fantastic; it’s great to see them up and going again,” she said.
“I’m sure their loyal customers will be back, plus many more.”
Many people who couldn’t attend the cafe today paid their respects via social media.
Lindt Australia chief executive Steve Loane said the company was looking at the day as a “happy day”.
“The sadness doesn’t go away but today is like a fresh start for a lot of us, and really, to get customers back in our store and see people smiling again,” he said.
The cafe will return to it’s standard trading hours on Saturday 21.
– Vishnavi Kulenthirarasa, produced by Eva Nicholson
Photos by Mohammad Rassawala.