The Queen Victoria Building was also the site of the most opulent of the tea rooms operated by the Chinese born Australian merchant and philanthropist, Quong Tart, Mandarin of the fourth degree, who lived at Ashfield, in Sydney's inner west (there is a memorial to him in Hercules Street, Ashfield).
This quote from Wikipedia gives some idea of what sort of man he was:
A prominent businessman, he owned a network of tearooms in the Sydney Arcade, the Royal Arcade and King Street. His crowning success was the ‘Elite Hall’ in the Queen Victoria Market, now the Queen Victoria Building. He was also a community leader, well connected with the local political and social elites. An acting consular to the imperial Chinese government at the time, the Chinese Emperor made him an honorary Mandarin of the fifth degree in 1887, in acknowledgment of his services to the Overseas Chinese community and to European-Chinese relations in Australia. In 1894, he was advanced to the fourth degree and was appointed Mandarin of the Blue Button, honoured by the Dragon Throne with the Peacock Feather.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mei_Quong_Tart
An active philanthropist, he often provided dinners, gifts and entertainment at his own expense for recipients ranging from the Benevolent Society home at Liverpool, to the newsboys of Ashfield, Summer Hill, Croydon and Burwood. From 1885 to 1888, he provided a series of dinners for the inmates of destitute asylums.
He also had progressive ideas about Sydney social politics. His tea rooms were the site of the first meetings of Sydney's suffragettes, and he devised new and improved employment policies for staff, such as paid sick leave.
He was a spokesman for the Chinese community, often advocating for the rights of Chinese Australians and working as an interpreter. He was one of the founders of the first Chinese merchants association in Sydney, titled the Lin Yik Tong.
He campaigned against the opium trade, and in 1883 went on an investigation to the Chinese camps in Southern New South Wales. The report revealed widespread opium addiction, and on 24 April 1884, Quong Tart presented a petition to the colonial secretary requesting the ban of opium imports. In June that year Quong Tart also tried to win support for a ban of opium in Melbourne and Ballarat, Victoria. In 1887, he presented a second petition to parliament, and produced a pamphlet titled 'A Plea for the Abolition of the Importation of Opium'.
He was also part of the NSW Royal Commission on Alleged Chinese Gambling and Immorality and Charges of Bribery Against Members of the Police Force from 1891 to 1892.