submitted by Peter Tsicalas on 23.02.2004
Upper Hunter Valley
Theo Harry Catsoulis, the farmer earlier of Grafton, Casino and Bellingen, came here with his family in the late war years and remained through to at least the early 1920s, perhaps retailing as well as growing produce, although Dimitri Efstathios Paspalas, who turned up at the same time, seems to have had the counter duties.
Envy of their farming lifestyle may have influenced Mick Emmanuel Psaltis to get out of the kitchen. He had a short lived café venture here from early 1925, but 9mths after his brother-in-law, George Zacharias Souris, turned up to work for him they must have had a serious discussion on the short comings of potato peeling verses the joys of banana bending. Bananas won the argument and off they went to Repton in early 1927 to purchase a block of crown land, passing their potato peelers to a bloke sporting the nametag of Emanuel Minucoe. But by the early 1930s the Cephalonians, in the form of Peter Denis Danalis, seem to have gained the largest slice of the action.
Harry Angelo Logus spent some time here in the mid war years, perhaps managing a short-lived branch of the Andronicos Bros of Musswellbrook. He was 14yrs old when he landed from Logothetianika in 1908, spending the following years working in various cafes in the district until acquiring his own outlet at Hay just after the war.
The Andronicos of Muswellbrook, sons of the Rev Theo of Kousounari, had an outlet here into the early war years, possibly installing their sister Zaharo/Olga Theodorakakis (Theodore) and family to run it for a while. She and husband Nick, with young sons Peter and Theo in tow, landed in 1913 and went directly to Lismore to work in the Olympia, and while it’s believed she followed her brothers to Muswellbrook it’s a fair bet that she was later the Miss Z. Theodore of Coolangatta from whom fellow Kousounarian, Nick Koukoulis, acquired his café in the early 1920s. She subsequently had a deli in Balmain where she is fondly remembered for her food handouts in the Depression.
The first clearly identifiable Denman Kytherians were Nick Peter Mavromatis (Matis) and Harry James Flaskas when they arrived in town in about 1920 to acquire a cafe from what looks like a partnership of Ithacans. But Harry was left with the washing up about 3yrs later when Nick, who landed in 1911 after graduating from the Egyptian Catering Academy, was enticed across to Mudgee.
Harry was 18yrs old when he waved goodbye to Christoforianika in 1912/13 and over the following years was a backpacking tourist around most of NSW until deciding Denman was the spot for a herb garden. He died in 1942 and his wife Stamatia (nee Cassimati), daughters Irene and Doris, and niece Koula Castrisios, continued to run the café until the end of the war, after which it was rented out for the next 45yrs.
Peter Anastasios Georgopoulos was put through a long apprenticeship here. He was 14yrs old when he came from Christoforianika in 1928, studying the finer points of gourmet cooking for almost 8yrs at Denman before he and his brother George were let loose to test the palates of Ballina’s fastidious foodies.
A bloke trading as P. Coroneos had a café here for a year or so around 1910/11. He is more than likely the same Peter Coroneos who rolled up from Smyrna in 1901 with his three sons and initially went to Moree for reprogramming. They subsequently had adventures around Inverell, Sydney, Goondiwindi and possibly Hay until landing on Merriwa’s doorstep. Around 1912/13 the sons usurped authority and moved to Weston, presenting the shop to Sam and George Nicholas (Papanikolaos of Pireaus and/or Messina).
Sam and George remained for many years until offloading to the enterprising Theo Mina Comino (Palavra) of Perlegianika. Theo was 21yrs old when he went to join his brothers at Wee Waa in 1924 and upon completion of his MBA began applying his business expertise to cafes and theatres around Gulargambone, Bellingen, Moree, Warialda and Bingarra, before taking a rest with a paid 4yr Pacific holiday courtesy of the RAAF.
Towards the end of the war his plane crash-landed in a swamp at Malabar, Queensland, and he was fortunate to have had some handy farmers nearby who managed to get all the crew out before the thing sunk. He spent sometime recuperating at Concord hospital where he heard on the grapevine of a café for sale at Merriwa. So upon discharge he went to see George Stavrianos Comino (Douris) of the Sydney Markets and with some smooth talking managed to relieve him of 500 quid, which he subsequently laid out on Sam Nicholas’ café counter as a deposit for the business. Sam, duly impressed with the negotiation style, said thank you very much and returned to his retirement haven on the coast.
And then Theo was out of the blocks. Post war trading was so good that within a short while he had repaid George Comninos the loan and presented Sam Nicholas with the balance of the purchase price. Fifteen or so years later Theo’s daughter, Maria Narelle, married George’s son Pasquale.
Theo in the meantime had brought his family down from Warialda, where they had spent the duration of the war, finally giving them some stability after ten years. The business continued to do well as the only competition in town at the time came from John Kyriakou’s Oassis Cafe across the road, but the passing travellers and tour busses provided more than enough trade for both. Theo then started to branch out into other activities. His first venture was in cattle dealing, followed by the lease of a 600 tree orchard, and sometime later purchasing 1200 acres carved off the famous Gundibri Station at Murdering Hut Creek out along the Scone road. This property, which held all the cattle and 1000 sheep, was later extended into wheat and managed by his son Jim.
Following the death of his wife Hazell in 1979 Theo went to live with Narelle and Pasquale in town, but in 1992 moved up to Jim’s place at Inverell, where he died in 1997 aged 95. His funeral at Merriwa, where he was buried next to Hazell, brought friends and associates from all areas of the State. He was a popular figure in the Hunter region and over the years had developed extensive and complex business, entertainment and political connections, raising money for political mates and various causes through functions, parties and benefits at the Merriwa cafe.
After an initial attempt at colonization by the Kingdom of Karavas, through their adventurer Spyro Theo Critharis pre WW1, the Gavrily family of the Principality of Potamos subsequently annexed the place as their personal fiefdom.
Victor and Peter Gavrilis (aka Gavriel and Gabriel) docked in 1912 and 3yrs after the arrival of their 17yr old brother George in 1924 all descended on Murrurundi to capture the Olympia Café, then in the possession of Peters & Co. Peter was left guarding the fort during WW2 when Victor (b. 1897) and George went off to serve, but by the 1990s George was the only one left on sentry duty, at which time he was living above the closed cafe.
Seventeen year old David Theo Andronico berthed at Circular Quay in 1901 and came to Muswellbrook around mid 1904, but whether to open his own shop or work for someone else is another unknown. His brother Stan, who had landed the year before with his brother-in-law, Peter Emmanuel Comino (Giraldis) of Lismore, joined him in early 1905 after a 2yr sojourn in South Africa. Together they left a deposit on the place when they moved to Tenterfield to open an Andronicos Bros branch in late 1906. But Stan left him with it when he moved on to Lismore in mid to late 1907. David appears to be the only brother still at Tenterfield by the time he sold out to the Cordatos Bros in early 1914 and moved to Lismore for a year or so prior to returning permanently to Muswellbrook.
Con, the eldest brother, is believed to have been around somewhere and possibly kept the stove fires burning at Muswellbrook until Charlie turned up to cut the fire wood in 1908. Con allegedly returned to Kythera around 1910/11, the same time as Andronicos Bros opened a new café in Lismore in partnership with Peter Comino, at which time all three branches came under the umbrella of ‘Andronico Bros & Comino.’ [At the same time Stan won himself a block of crown land in a ballot at Nimbin along with a couple of ‘Hindoos’, sparking a ‘Tampa crisis’ and the infamous ‘White Australia election’ of 1910, but that’s another story.] Around 1914 Stan too sought refuge on Kythera and a year or so later David sold the Lismore outlet to Notaras & Flaskas and rushed down to Charlie with the exciting news that he finally had discovered the mysterious ingredients in the Australian pie. (You don’t wanna know.)
Charlie had sailed through Sydney Heads in late 1904, aged 16, and for the next 4yrs was a journeyman around Manilla, Lismore and Tenterfield until taking up permanent residence at Muswellbrook. He and David worked on the pies, licensing brief franchise outlets in Denman and possibly Cassilis, until Stan returned in about 1919 and Con in about 1920.
Together the four brothers argued over the kitchen duties until selling to Con Coroneos of Scone in 1927 and going their separate ways; Con permanently back to his wife’s cooking in Potamos, Charlie to establish the City Fruit Markets in Sydney, David to a milkbar in Balmain and Stan to a Sydney business consultancy. All the brothers later went into partnership to establish an import business in King Street, importing bulk material and supplying drapery shops throughout NSW and QLD. Charlie was the active face of this venture together with one of Stan’s sons.
In the mid 1930s came the champion sportsman, Emmanuel Con Cretan of Mylopotamos, to acquire the Monterey Café after a long stint at Queanbeyan with his brother Paul. His prowess on the soccer field is well remembered, but wrestling brought the major awards and acclaim. He subsequently opened his own gym, where his students included the local police.
Comino & Co was trading here from about 1907 or earlier. It’s a remote possibility the culprit using the name was one of the Coroneos of Merriwa, who subsequently traded as Comino & Co at Goondiwindi. George Tsicalas, the brother-in-law of Con Andronico, was here for a few months around late 1906 before he moved to Lismore and thence Warwick and Goondiwindi where his brothers were trading as Comino & Co. Whatever the circumstances, Comino & Co seem to have disappeared from the scene a couple of years later, apparently leaving a Greek vacuum until the Coroneo Bros of Glen Innes took up the challenge in about 1912/13.
Coroneo Bros initially consisted of Spiro (Sam) and Alex Andrew Coroneos (Psomas) who had landed in 1907, aged 14 and 11 respectively. They had taken over the reins at Glen Innes after all their brothers disappeared around 1910/11 and traded for a year or so until selling out to Crithary & Poulos and discovering Scone. Alex returned to Glen Innes ~1916 and continued café trading until relieved by brother Nick and joining the ranks of the cinema czars, subsequently branching out into Armidale and, in 1943, returning to Scone to purchase the Civic Theatre. He moved to Sydney in 1947 and passed the Civic to his cousin, Theo Mina Coroneos. Sam also took a break from complaining café customers and went into the horse feed business for a few years until following Alex into theatres, exhibiting at Cessnock, Tamworth and Lismore, before resuming cooking in the 1930s.
In the meantime Con Mena Coroneos (Bellos) became the main face of Coroneo Bros of Scone. He landed in 1913, aged 15, and did a 2yr orientation course at Moree and Inverell before coming to town. He was joined by his brothers post war; 14yr old Theo coming in 1921 and 14yr old Spiro in 1923.
Around 1927 Con acquired the Andronicos outlet at Muswellbrook and a couple of years later Theo and Spiro came across as managers. It seems the brothers had some sort of rotation roster initially and continued to alternate between the two branches, both named the Niagara, until Theo became a permanent and prominent citizen of Scone. (And together with Anna Mavromati, the niece of Theo Comino of Merriwa, begat Minas, now the prominent Professor of Ophthalmology at UNSW.)
submitted by Chris Goopy on 15.10.2004
Theo Harry Catsoulis , the first named on this page (Aberdeen) is my Papauli. How wonderful to read this about him. If anyone has any more information on him, please contact me email@example.com
Thank you, Chris(nee Catsoulis)
Teacher, journalist, poet and author, Sydney NSW Australia
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