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Cafes, Shops & Cinemas / Fratsia

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Photos > Cafes, Shops & Cinemas

submitted by Greek-Australian Cafe Culture on 03.01.2012

Regal Cafe Ipswich, 1952

Photograph: Marina Londy (left) from Londy's Cafe in Ipswich visits the nearby Regal Cafe after school in 1952. George Kentrotis stands proudly behind the Regal's confectionery counter with two of his brothers, two other male relatives, and two Anglo-Australian female staff.

Milkshake machines, a metal straw dispenser, and scales for weighing loose lollies sit on the counter, and stylish pilasters emblazoned with the cafe's name and a neon sign featuring a crown frame a mirror on the wall behind them.


This photo became the front cover of Toni Risson's book, Aphrodite and the Mixed Grill, printed 2007, and reprinted by the Kytherian World Heritage Fund, in 2012.

***BACK IN PRINT***2012***BACK IN PRINT***2012***BACK IN PRINT***2012

TO ORDER:

Phone: (07) 3281 1525 or

0439 664 291

Enquiries:

Contact Toni Risson by email here

Or, send, name, address and cheque/money order to

Toni Risson
130 Woodend Road
Woodend, 4305.

$49.50 (incl. GST)

Plus $11 (Postage and handling).

Or,

Contact the Kytherian World Heritage Fund.

Email George Poulos, here

Email Angelo Notaras, here

Composite Front-Back Cover as a .pdf

Aphrodite coverV1.pdf

From the Queensland Historical Atlas website

By: Toni Risson
Download a .pdf version of this web page here:

Queensland_Historical_Atlas.pdf


Toowoomba, Cunnamulla, Maryborough, Muttaburra ... from busy coastal cities to one-street settlements in the far west and tropical north, every town in Queensland had a Greek café. Whether they were elegant three-story affairs that catered for weddings or narrow shopfronts that concentrated on takeaway, Greek cafés were open from 6am to 11pm seven days a week except Christmas Day and Good Friday. The food was good. There was plenty of it. And it was cheap. They were the McDonalds of their time. During the heyday of the Greek café in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, regional cities sustained up to a dozen cafés, which were packed out on Saturday nights. Ipswich in southeast Queensland, had a dozen Greek cafés in the CBD in the 1940s. But Greek cafés were more than food outlets; bustling to the clatter of silver cutlery, the hiss of sizzling steaks, and the swoosh of soda fountains, popular cafés like Londy’s in Ipswich and Cominos’ in Cairns were the hub of their communities. The Greek café is an Australian icon and a uniquely Australian phenomenon.

The Greek shop-keeping phenomenon

Historian Hugh Gilchrist claimed, ‘If there is a single word which summarises the lives of most Greeks in Australia early in the 20th century it is shop-keeping’. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries thousands of Greeks fled poverty and political unrest in their homelands in search of a better life. Most were single men. In Australia they worked as market gardeners, canecutters and the like, but by the 1890s a surprising number had gravitated to food service industries. Many did not return to their homeland as planned but married Greek girls by proxenia, and as the twentieth century progressed women and children played significant roles in Greek shops. How the Greek shopkeeping family became a quintessentially Australian phenomenon is the story of the Greek café.

Arthur Comino from Kythera opened the first Greek fish shop in Oxford Street Sydney in 1878. Exploiting the craze for oysters, Comino prospered and began sponsoring fellow countrymen’s passages to Australia. The resulting chain migration meant that 70% of the 400 Kytherian immigrants living in New South Wales by 1911 owned or worked in Sydney oyster saloons. Greek shops soon dotted the Australian landscape as migrants from all over Greece, having been ‘apprenticed’ in Sydney, moved out into rural New South Wales and up into Queensland. They opened shops like the Athens Oyster Saloon in Longreach and these were the precursors of the Greek café.

The Greek café

From the second decade of the twentieth century, female waitresses replaced male staff, kitchens served a greater range of food, and the title ‘Café’ replaced ‘Oyster Saloon’. In addition, cafés adopted the ‘classic form’, which has come to define the iconic Greek café. Often called the Paragon, the Majestic or the Australia, the café with its ritzy Art Deco façade was easily located in the main street, where shoppers, country folk, and travellers pushed through plastic strips that were strung across the doorway to deter flies. They passed the confectionery counter, behind which gold lettering on a mirrored sign advertised homemade Icy-Cold Lemon and Orange Drinks. They nodded to the proprietor, waiting to dispense milkshakes in frosty, anodised containers or foaming ice-cream sodas from chrome soda fountains on the milk bar, before jamming into wooden cubicles along the side walls. According to historian Denis Conomos, an electrically-refrigerated milk bar that chilled water, milk, and ice-cream and was equipped with a malted-milk mixer, soda fountain, fruit-juice extractor, and ice-cream maker, was a feature of the new-style Greek café that appeared throughout Australia during the 1910s.

Fish ‘n’ chips at the dago’s

Because they flourished at the interface between an anglophile Australia and a new wave of ‘foreigners’, Greek cafés offer a means of understanding the relationship between Greek and Anglo-Celtic Australians. Proprietors were well-respected in their communities and local women who worked for them report that the Greeks treated them like family. But most Australians referred to Greek immigrants as ‘dagos’ and non-Greek cafés in Queensland towns bore signs urging customers to Shop here before the Day Goes. The latent hostility towards proprietors surfaced on Saturday nights when drunks rolled into Greek cafés for a meal.

Significantly, Greek cafés did not serve Greek food. They catered instead for the British-Australian predilection for steak, chops, poultry, pork fillet – accompanied by fried eggs, chips, salad or boiled vegetables, sliced white bread and butter – meat pies, mixed grills, toasted sandwiches and coffee. (The mixed grill, which consists of a steak, a chop, two sausages, two fried eggs and two rashers of bacon accompanied by a large grilled tomato and two slices of white toast with Worcestershire Sauce readily available, is the epitome of this diet). Many also maintained the connection with seafood, selling oysters, prawns, fresh and cooked fish and creating in the Australian imagination an enduring association between Greeks and the warm, salty smell of fish ‘n’ chips wrapped in newspaper. Harry Tanos of Ipswich’s Sydney Café commonly peeled five x 150 pound sacks of potatoes and cleaned and cooked 600 pieces of fish on Fridays during the 1950s. Given that Peter Londy did a similar trade at the nearby Londy’s Café, Ipswich residents consumed over a thousand pieces of fish on Fridays during this period.

Proprietors knew what Australians wanted and gave them plenty of it whenever they wanted it. They adhered for decades to this simple business principle and a policy of cheap prices and warm hospitality. While proprietors claim they would have been lynched if they had served Greek food like spinach pie or dolmades in their cafés, as employers, friends and neighbours they did eventually change the face of Australian cuisine. First sampled in café kitchens or across suburban backyard fences, the Mediterranean diet of basil, garlic, yoghurt, olives, olive oil and chunks of unbuttered bread is now part of the Australian lifestyle.

Greek cafés and milk bars reflected the social tradition of the Greek kafeneion or coffeehouse and were a vital part of the social fabric of Australian culture for much of the twentieth century. They enabled generations of Greek immigrants to become part of their adopted homeland and also popularised American food-catering ideas like the soda fountain and milk bar. But pre-packaged goods, supermarkets, fast-food chains, television, super cars and highway bypasses, even the declining influence of Catholicism and its hold over Australian eating patterns, contributed to their gradual demise in the closing decades of the century. Despite its iconic and singular status, the Greek café has all but disappeared from the Queensland landscape.

Copyright © Toni Risson, 2010

Photos > Cafes, Shops & Cinemas

submitted by Constantine Comino on 05.11.2007

Manuel and Gregoria Raisis Gordonvale Cafe, Qld, Circa 1930s

My Grandparents Manuel and Gregoria Raisis operated a cafe in Gordonvale, Qld in the 1930s and 1940s before moving to Brisbane in the 1950s.

Photos > Cafes, Shops & Cinemas

submitted by Toni Risson on 31.10.2007

The Ritz Cafe, Ipswich, Queensland, Australia

George Minas Kallinicos came to Australia in 1935 at the age of 16. He came from the village of Fratsia. George was ‘apprenticed’ in cafés in Mitchell and Toowoomba before he and his cousin, Kosmas Kallinicos, converted a warehouse in Bell Street, Ipswich, in 1942. The new shop was situated approximately on the site of the present food court, and was called the Ritz Café. On leaving the army in 1947, George returned to the café and bought out his cousin’s share. In 1951, he went to Kythera and entered an arranged marriage with Demetra and they had three sons — Minas, Manuel, and John.

The café was situated next door to a stylish new theatre. The Ritz Theatre, which opened in 1940, was the first air-conditioned picture theatre outside of Brisbane and featured Dunlopillo foam latex sets (the seats in the Wintergarden were wooden) and a ‘symphony’ of coloured Neon lights controlled by a dimmer switch. In keeping with the Art Deco elegance of the theatre, the Ritz Café was decked out in cream and green, with black glass, mirrors, and lots of chrome.84 Manuel Kallinicos remembers that café staff and children would begin frantically rolling chips in newspaper five minutes before intermission, in readiness for the onslaught to come.

Manuel also recalls the rock and roll dance competitions, which were sometimes held on Friday nights at the Ritz Theatre in the 50's­60's; he particularly remembers the men with pointed shoes, slicked back hair, tight pants, and matchboxes tucked into their sleeves. Several residents commented that farmers on their weekly trips to town tended to patronise one café in particular. Manuel recalls that for farmers from Fernvale, Lowood, and Esk, it was the Ritz Café, and they usually came on Wednesdays and Thursdays. “People would have the same meal every week.”

Like many other cafés, the Ritz had an extensive confectionery counter and milk bar on one side near the entry to the shop. Until it was gutted and refurbished in the early 60s, the cafe had a raised area filled with tables at the back of the café. The cubicles were also taken out during renovations to allow greater flexibility, and Peters Ice Cream installed a new stainless steel milk bar and refrigeration unit. Like the City Café, the Ritz had an upstairs function room, where weddings were held in the 40's and 50's. George renovated the upstairs area in the 50's and operated it as a billiard parlour, where cribbage and five hundred and listening to the races were favourite pastimes. The Kallinicos family ran the café until 1968, when the building was sold to Cribb and Foote and finally consumed in the Kern redevelopment in the 80's.

Pages 56-57, Aphrodite and the Mixed Grill.

TO ORDER:

Phone: (07) 3281 1525 or

0439 664 291

Enquiries:

Contact Toni Risson by email here

Or, send, name, address and cheque/money order to

Toni Risson
130 Woodend Road
Woodend, 4305.

$49.50 (incl. GST)

Plus $11 (Postage and handling).


Composite Front-Back Cover as a .pdf

Aphrodite coverV1.pdf