(Australia) – There was a time when most Australian cities, suburbs, and even country towns had their share of Greek Cafes and Milk Bars. There were two things that set these places apart. First of all, they typically had long hours and were open seven days a week, which was atypical for the 1930’s when they first began. Despite their Greek roots, they had names that celebrated the United States, such as Astoria and Niagara, but many of these places in America did have Greek populations. They were also done up in an Art Deco style, which at the time was at the heart of elegance. The uniforms of those who worked at these operations were also reminiscent of either the Art Deco style, or they were inspired by the elegance of Hollywood.
Their menus, for the most part, celebrated the United States by serving things like steak, eggs, ice cream sundaes, and potato chips. Most of these places, however, were owned by the Greek immigrants that began to settle throughout Australia and as a result, many Greek classic dishes also found their way on the menus. Many people report these places gave the Australians a much needed way to escape every day life. They looked at this places as a way to enjoy a piece of “Hollywood.”
One of the first, successful milk bars was called The Black & White Fruit Milk Bar and was located in Wollongong. Greek brothers Harry, Peter, and Theo Tambakis ran the operation. Upon learning of their success, other Greek immigrants decided to do the same thing and other milk bars owned and operated by Greeks began to spring up all over Australia. Despite their Greek roots, however, they very rarely served Greek food. The secret of their success was that they gave Australians a taste of the United States. Other famous milk bars include Perth’s Golden Star Milk Bar, which was run by Stagros and John Coufos. Although a lot of these places have since closed down, some are still in operation. For instance, the The Olympia Milk Bar in Stanmore, which is a suburb of Stanmore and still has the long hours of the original milk bars. This one is owned by Mr. Fotiou, who has kept the milk bar in operation for decades.