Lismore Greeks - 2

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Gourmet's Guide to Lismore

Chapter 8

Lismore Greeks - 2

Poulos Families
Fardouly Family

Bavea Families
Feros Families

Kritharis Families - 1
Kritharis Families - 2

Kritharis Families - 3
Other Early Greek Cafes

Poulos Families

Nick Theo Poulos/Poulas (Hagepanagos), born 1881 in Nafplia on the east coast of Peloponessos, accompanied by his sister/wife/cousin Zena (1894) and brother George (1884), rolled into town from Bowraville in 1916. He became the fourth Greek café proprietor in Woodlark after Comino, Andrulakis and Merras (assuming the last is Greek), arriving at much the same time as Notaras & Flaskas, possibly to look over the vacant Olympia in Molesworth, but, if so, losing the argument and electing to establish a confectionery business in the new Clive Building, just near Comino’s first shop. The original two-storey wooden building, housing Mrs Edith Evan’s refreshment rooms (ground floor) and boarding house (top floor) along with four other businesses, went up in smoke in early 1913 and the uninsured Mrs Evans was declared bankrupt, probably leaving a dedicated café site in the new single-storey brick building. In early 1919 the Poulos also acquired the deli/cafe business of the Comino Bros (ex Athena Andrulakis) a few doors down, at which time Nick became an outspoken member of the Lismore Chamber of Commerce.

During the war, which saw a huge demand for female labour, Nick was the leader in pushing waitress wages from 20/- to 30/- per week by 1919, although there’s a suspicion that the Greeks had to offer higher rates than ‘white’ competitors. And like all Greeks, he worked 7 days a week by acquiring a Sunday trading licence. Through the war the cost of a standard three-course meal rose from 1/- to 1/3d across the whole Richmond-Tweed, reaching 1/6d by 1920, where it remained for the next 20yrs as the region went through troubled times. The first to go to 1/6d were a couple of ex-Diggers, Betteridge and Munro, when they acquired the Niche Tea Rooms, integral with the Digger’s Theatre across the road from Poulos, in 1919. The Greeks appear to have held the 1/3d price (the same as a hair cut) for another 12mths before they and everyone else succumbed.

[Trivia digression: Inflation was running away and the cost-of-living became a major issue at the State election of late 1919. The anti-Labour Northern Star reckoned the dog was chasing its tail in continual wage increases and said in Oct1919, just after it gave the thumbs down to the Premier’s policy speech and campaign launch in Lismore, that the Board of Trade… unanimously determined… the minimum wage for all adult workers in the State should be increased from £3 to £3/17/6d..., which was hotly disputed by prominent men in the commercial world..., as there being no basic wage in other States, these rivals can undersell New South Wales and her commerce will be ruined.... When we see that from 1914 (before the war) up to September, 1918, the living wage increased by only 12s, it seems that there must be something wrong when the Board of Trade works out the increase for the last twelve months to be an additional 17s 6d.… To minimise this he (Labour Premier Holman) proposes to cut out the single man from the increase and confine its application to married men with a family of two.… The principle of the basic wage now tumbles to pieces, like a house of cards.… He (the worker) will soon find, as an effect of the increase, that the purchasing power… will shrink further… and he will have a greater struggle than ever to keep himself out of the hands of the Jews.…]

In early 1920 the Poulos sold both businesses to the mysterious Albert Williams, allegedly late of Mullumbimby and Broadwater cafes, who only lasted about 5 minutes before the businesses were passed on, the confectionery shop, known as the Busy Bee Café and Busy Bee Candy Shop, coming back into Greek hands through a partnership of George Poulos and George Patrinos, and the deli business, known as The Hub, going to Mrs Effie Gundlach. Further machinations saw Williams subsequently take over the Digger’s Café (aka The Niche Tea Rooms) across the road. Nick and Zena Poulos then disappear from the scene, apparently for a Greece sojourn, leaving George to hold the Lismore fort.

Poulos & Patrinos in the meantime had given the Bee a makeover, particularly boasting about their installation of electric fans, seemingly the first café in Lismore to offer such an innovation. But then in Aug22 the place went up in flames and Williams reappeared on the scene claiming proprietorship (while N.J. Simmons declared ownership of the building.) Once again the plot is lost, but the Greeks seem to have ended their partnership in 1923, sometime during the Great Barrow Wars, when Poulos went off to become the first Greek proprietor in North Lismore upon opening the Gopoulos Dining Rooms in Bridge Street, while Patrinos, late of Mullumbimby and Brunswick Heads cafes, resumed ownership of the rebuilt shop and remained through the anti-Greek earthquakes, giving the place another makeover to create the Canberra Cafe. He made no claims to be a fruiterer and his adverts mostly promoted his skill as a chocolate maker. But by Apr23 the place was in the hands of the receivers and later in the year was in the hands of Angelo Crethar of Ballina when the place was again renovated to emerge as Crethar's Sundae Shop. (The Canberra name reappeared at a different location with the arrival of the Carkagis Bros in the mid 1930s.) Patrinos (aka Kolopoulos of Patras) and wife Mary (aka Fotini Noume/Nicholas of Tripolis) moved to Stones Corner in Brisbane, while George Poulos left in late 1923 to try a cafe venture in Murwillumbah.

And then in the late 1920s Nick Poulos returned to town (but with or without Zena is a mystery), acquiring the Byron Cafe at 81 Keen Street from the McNeil family in Aug28, although the business machinations are a little inscrutable – it’s possible he worked with or became co-lessee of the business with Mrs R. McNeill. George returned from Murbah in 1929 and joined him at the Byron, marrying Zaphiria Dimitri Crethar the same year. Shortly afterwards however, Nick again disappeared from the scene, the lease of the business passing to Harry Nick Crethar, who in turn passed it to Zaphiro's brother, Harry Jim Crethar, a couple of years later, by which time the place had been rebirthed as the Regent Cafe. It’s likely that the selling motives in each case were due to trading difficulties; Nick was still chasing creditors into mid 1930, at the same time creditors were chasing him, particularly the new baker on the scene, William McLiesh of the The Golden Crust Bakery in Conway St who was offering a wide range of new bakery products. And in late 1930 Theo Fardouly was still chasing Mrs McNeil for outstanding bills for ice and ice-cream, while Harry Nick Crethar was a ‘garnishee’ to Mrs McNeil. All too hard, but at this time trading for all businesses in Lismore was becoming extremely difficult. Unemployment in town started to rise at an exponential rate from late 1929, exacerbated by an influx of unemployed from elsewhere, many using the ‘put it on the tab’ ploy.

About six months or so after the birth of son Theo, George and Zafiria followed Nick out of town, arriving in Sydney around late 1930 and remaining until returning to Lismore in 1937. George died late the following year, after which Zafiro mostly worked for her brother Harry at the Regent and later the Golden Globe, where she was still employed when she died in 1952. Her son Theo had left North Lismore School in 1945 and immediately went to work for Harry in his Golden Globe Cafe in Molesworth Street before branching out on his own as a fruiterer, with an interlude at the Terakes Fruit Market in the meantime, although he is believed to have spent some time as a cutter with Victor Panaretos at City Club Apparel in South Lismore. He married Anne Elizabeth Goulding and sometime in the late 1960s moved to Sydney, so ending the Poulos family’s long association with Lismore. (His uncle Nick Poulos spent some time at Dunedoo before moving to Sydney in the mid 1940s).


Fardouly Family

Theodore George Fardouly, trading as Fardouly & Co, acquired the restaurant of Notaras & Flaskas in Molesworth Street around early 1919 and progressively took the Olympia down-market, deciding that an expensive makeover to retain the place’s premier position wasn’t cost-effective. At this time it was still the leading restaurant in Lismore and the favoured meeting place for many organizations, but the rise of the MG Refreshment Rooms was giving some hot competition at the top end of the market. The number of customers for such a large silver-service establishment progressively declined through the region's 'Clayton's Depression' and Theo, trading here in name only after 1922, walked away in 1929. His father-in-law, Peter Lemnos (Polychronis), managed the place until 1924/25 when he moved across to South Lismore to open his own business, handing over to Theo’s koumbaro and probable cousin, Archie Gavrili, who seems to have operated it mainly as a light refreshment ‘soda fountain’ style outlet until he moved on to Moree in 1928/29 and the place folded, the lease being taken over by Lang’s Shoe Shop. By this time the Olympia’s competition, the nearby Elite Refreshment Rooms of Walter Gray, had made serious inroads into the large party function market, with seating for 100 in the upstairs rooms. Nevertheless, he too succumbed in 1929 and the business sold to the Vlismas Bros, who managed to retain the upmarket niche despite the progressive upgrades of Angelo Crethar.

Theo was the driving force behind the formation of the ‘Northern Rivers Retail Refreshment Room Employers’ Association’ in Lismore in mid 1924. This organization, with membership from Coffs Harbour to Tweed Heads, was formed as a result of new awards for restaurant employees, which, in addition to the increase in the standard rate for the ordinary 48hr working week, granted considerable increases for overtime and the banning of junior labour. The restaurant proprietors wanted a united voice in lobbying the Industrial Court for a variation of the award, enabling them to work their employers at any time within the week between the hours of 7am and 11pm, such working hours not to exceed 48hrs, which would have the effect of doing away with all overtime. The initial meeting was held in the café of the association secretary, Walter Gray, and drew café proprietors from all over the north coast. Alas, it all came to nothing and the organisation folded shortly afterwards.

Theo, believed to be on his second trip to Australia, was 23yrs old when he landed from Potamos in late 1909, and shortly afterwards joined the ranks of the Kytherian pioneers at Narrabri, where he acquired two shops in partnership with his brother-in-law, Kyriacos Ioannis Baveas. Narrabri’s worst fire on 14Mar1917, that saw 15 buildings in the CBD go up in smoke along with one or both of their refreshment rooms, (and including The White Australia Grill Rooms), prompted a geographical cure. So shortly after the shops were rebuilt he passed his shares to his cousin, Archie Gavrily, and came to Lismore to bid for the Olympia, in the meantime marrying Sofia Erini Polychronis in Sydney, with Archie Gavrily as Bestman (Koumbaros). He and Sofia lived above the shop at 94 Molesworth Street through to the late 1920s before taking up permanent residence in Conway Street, where they lived in three different houses over the years as their family expanded.

Kyriacos did a 2yr stint in the Greek Navy during the Balkan Wars. He came back to Narrabri 1914 for a couple of years before returning to Greece for more fun during WW1, his share of the Narrabri business subsequently taken up by Jack Nick Bavea in partnership with Archie Gavrily. 
A bit of confusion arose in Lismore in 1946 when his son, Jack, arrived from Tingha and acquired the Vogue Milkbar, while his namesake, the above Jack Bavea, the son of Nikolaos Ioannis, was already trading in town.
Combined photo courtesy 'Life in Australia', published 1916.


Fardouly/Polychronis Wedding, Sydney 1919
Standing: Mrs Helen Polychronis (nee Stephens), Archie Gavrily, Sophia Polychronis, Peter Polychronis (Lemnos)
Sitting: Ena Polychronis, May Polychronis, Theo Fardouly, Olga Polychronis. Child unknown.
(Courtesy Craig Fardouly)

In the meantime Fardouly & Co also had acquired an ice manufacturing business and freehold in Carrington Lane, off Larkin Lane, in about 1921 (although it could have been in late 1919 as, like Nick Poulos, he was paying for two Sunday trading licenses by then.) At this time the two ice-making factories of Marmaduke Newton dominated the market, also supplying ice cream and vanilla ices to shops from Grafton to Murwillumbah as well as the traditional blocks of ice around town and some villages and towns along the rail line. Here too Theo found hot competition, with a price war starting almost immediately upon his arrival on the scene, which went on for many years. Newton initially dropped his price an extraordinary 33%, from 9d to 6d a block, to maintain market share, and was very relieved when Theo decided to join him in a bit of retail price maintenance. By the mid 1920s the retailers had become a fair slice of their business and were jacking up, being forced to pay 1/4d per block while the two manufacturers continued to retail at the same price. As the retailers began to shop around (apparently an aggressive Casino manufacturer was on the scene), Marmaduke and Theo upped their retail price to 2/4d, but by the Depression they had dropped back to 1/8d, causing the retailers/carters to again go militant and source elsewhere. The retailers quartered their blocks and on-sold for 8d each, maintaining that anything less than a 100% mark-up wasn’t worth their while. For the next few years things were all over the place as Theo and Marmarduke tried to undercut each other. The retailers/carters’ also lost solidarity and their prices floated up and down.

In 1930 Theo made the fateful decision to expand to match Marmaduke’s output. Unfortunately he paid top dollar for old outdated engines and compressors which gave his operator, his brother-in-law Con Polychronis, a major headache in keeping them running. At the same time two new rival ice and ice cream manufacturing concerns, Waters of Victor Ice and Green of Dinkum Ice, upped the ante, with physical clashes between their respective deliverers competing for customers. Theo, working 25hrs a day, became his own deliverer, travelling around all the local towns and villages. Then in late 1930 Theo’s old rival, Marmaduke Newton, broke their monopoly agreement and further upped the ante by retailing a quarter block of ice for 4d, from 5d for cash and 6d ‘on the slate’ operating through most of 1929. Theo struggled on for the next couple of years producing ice and ice cream at very little profit in a falling market and eventually got into a spot of bother. By early 1932 he was financially stretched, but managed to escape bankruptcy by coming to a ‘deed of arrangement’ with his creditors under the new ‘Moratorium Act’. And in a classic Depression chain reaction, he was forced to come to a similar arrangement with the blokes who owed him money, who in turn had to take action against the blokes who owed them money, who also had debtors…. Theo told the court that his income was approximately £600 a year, and his expenses between £800 and £900. His business had not shown any profit for the past three years.

Early 1932 also marked the stepped-up production from the new Norco factory, which gave Walter Dailhou the sole rights to distribute the excess to its own requirements - Ice, Ice, Ice. Walter Dailhou agent for Norco. Quarter lb blocks 4d delivered or 3d at factory or cart. Watch for the carts with the Norco Sign – starting another price war. By late 1934 Newton and Fardouly were the only manufacturers left and, probably through collusion, the price went back to 6d, at which time the consumers were complaining of underhand practices – a lot of the blocks were hollow! Shortly afterwards Theo gave the game away, generating a huge sigh of relief from Marmaduke. Post Depression, household refrigerators increasingly appeared on the scene, putting the writing on the wall for all ice manufactures, although Lismore still had a residential demand into the 1950s.

On the ice cream side of the business things had also become very competitive. In late 1931 Marmaduke won the rights to manufacture Pioneer Ice Cream, delivering the stuff anywhere for 5/6d per gallon or 4/6d at the factory. A month later the North Coast Cordial Co on the corner of Keen and Magellan started flogging Golden Ray Ice Cream, and a month after that Mr A. L. Green started manufacturing Frozola Ice Cream from his Magellan factory, delivering all over the place and also providing a range of complementary products; cones, wafers, etc. And somewhere around town was Allen Handcock trading as ‘Pansy Ice Cream.’ All of which left the ‘boutique’ café manufacturers struggling, most opting to retail Peters’ Ice Cream – ‘the health food of a Nation.’

Peters American Delicacy Company Ltd, established by the American F.A. Peters in 1907, had grown to become the largest producer of ice cream in Australia, boasting that his Sydney factory was ‘the largest in the British Empire.’  By 1934, when many were complaining about the direction of Norco, agitation grew for the great co-op to diversify into the rapidly growing ice cream market by building its own factory, at the same time Newton was expanding with the acquisition of Waters’ Victor Ice Cream ('famous for Eskimo Pies') and extending the factory. (Alas, Norco stuck with butter, but what might have been.) Ice cream distribution remained a competitive business, so much so that Council was forced into a crackdown on vendors following complaints of aggressive spruiking and ringing of bells on the Sabbath.

Theo eventually diversified into the carrier business, where his insulated ice delivery truck, ideally suited to the carriage of fresh produce, was used to pick up fruit and vegies from the Brisbane markets for delivery to shops around town. Nevertheless, in the late 1930s he began scouting out other business opportunities, which eventually lead him to Enmore. Here he went alone for nearly a year at the beginning of the war to develop a fruiterers business, leaving his remaining family in Lismore but returning in early 1942 to pick them up and dispose of the ice manufacturing business, by this time in bankruptcy.

All of Theo and Sophia’s eleven children were born in Lismore, where unfortunately their twins Anthony and Stanley died in 1939. As each child finished education they went to Sydney to live and work with the Polychronis’. All the sons turned out to be life-long devotees of dance, winning many competitions with their fancy footwork. Dancing was one of the most popular forms of entertainment at the time, with functions held in all the local village halls as well as the various venues in Lismore, and the boys attended most, using ‘Anglo Aliases’ to ensure they didn’t get a knockback.

Theo’s only known close relatives in Australia were the children of his brother John and sisters Stavroula and Marigo, most of whom came to Lismore at some stage. John’s son, Sam (Themistokles), married Helen Poulos, the daughter of George and Botta of Ballina, sometime in the 1950s and took over Nick CronesNew City Milk Bar for a period. In the mid 1940s Stavroula’s son, Jack Kyriacos Bavea, took over the Vogue Milk Bar from Nick Crones, who had in turn married Theo’s niece, Matina Sophios, in 1939.

Theo eventually retired to Hurstville where he died in 1958 aged 71, the son of George and Adriana (nee Megaloconomo). Sophia died there in 1975 aged 73.

The quarter of Potamos called Fardoulianika bears testimony to the Fardouli name being amongst the oldest in the village. Potamos, the largest village on Kythera, established mainly by refugees and immigrants from the Peloponnese, sustained a population of almost 4000 people by the mid 1800s, but today is a shadow of its former self with about 600 residents. Other long-established families include familiar Lismore names like Panaretos, Coroneos, Megaloconomos, Cominos, Baveas, Gavrilis, Prineas, Sophios, Tsicalas and Zantiotis, branches of whom progressively migrated to Smyrna, Egypt, America and Australia.

Peter Lemnos (Polychronis/Polychrome), adopting the name from his island home, arrived in town with his family in 1921 to work with his son-in-law. He was born on Lemnos in 1865 and as an 11yr old followed the family tradition of going to sea, but after his father and a brother were drowned the life of a landlubber suddenly looked more attractive. He jumped ship at Newcastle in 1896 after being deported from South Africa where he had been arrested as an illegal immigrant. Sometime later he made his way to Brisbane where he established a fish shop and, under the name Pokrone, married the Scottish immigrant Helen Stephens in 1900. Helen was from a remote northern fishing village beyond Aberdeen and, at age 21, took the bold decision to come alone to Australia, coincidently landing in Newcastle in 1896.

Peter was recorded as Panayis Limnios in April 1901 when his donation to the Brisbane church building fund was registered and where he and a fellow islander, Eleftherios Kanellos, who went under the name Tom Lemnos, appear to be the only such bearers of the name. While family folklore has it that Peter was not related, he and Tom became good friends and maintained contact over the years. After Peter returned to Sydney Tom remained the only bearer of the Lemnos name in Queensland. He allegedly had established Lemnos & Co, which was one of about eight oyster saloons operating in Brisbane at the turn of the century, but it’s possibly this was in fact Peter Lemnos. At this time the entire Greek population of the State was a mere 100, including the 36 in Brisbane. Population growth was rapid thereafter, with Kytherians becoming the dominant regional group.

A year or so after the birth of Sofia in Brisbane in 1901, the family moved to Warwick where Peter became the Greek pioneer upon opening an Oyster Saloon in Palmerin Street. The twins Ena and Olga were born there in 1904 but shortly after the birth of Con in 1907 Peter sold out to Harry Tsicalas and partners, who were trading as Comino & Co, and moved onto Gatton for a couple of years before selling out to Peter Fatseas and establishing himself in Sydney, where Bill was born in 1910 and the last children, the twins Les and May, were born in 1914. Around 1911 he took over the café of Mrs Poppy Seines at 416 Elizabeth St. This shop, established by the Cominos in the early 1890s, was amongst the oldest Greek cafes in Sydney. Peter and family came to Lismore in 1921 at the urging of daughter and son-in-law, Sofia and Theo.

Sofia was very good friends with Maria Seines and was her bridesmaid upon her marriage to Anthony Sourry, one of the illustrious Souris Bros of the Tablelands, in Sydney in 1916. After the war the Sourrys established themselves in Brisbane where Sofia was a regular visitor to see Mary over the years and from whom she secretly learnt Greek, a by-product of which was that Theo gained advance warning of any planned mutinies by his unsuspecting Greek employees being eavesdropped upon. Interestingly, she never encouraged her children to speak the language and all drifted away from the Greek community.

In 1924/25 Peter and family moved across to South Lismore and established a café and fruiterers business in Casino Street, trading as The Dinkum Café, where the mower shop now stands opposite the old court house. The duck pond at the back of the property became a favourite swimming hole for the younger set of the Lismore Greek community (and camping spot for the swaggies during the Depression).


Dinkum Cafe,
Casino Street, South Lismore, ~1924.
Peter Polychronis (aka Lemnos) in doorway.
(Courtesy Bill Polychrone)

Peter had an outgoing personality, which helped make the business a success, but Helen was also very active in their business and their trade name, H. P. Lemnos, was specifically designed to reflect this fact. Eventually, at her urging they reverted to the Polychronis name as Peter became a little more practiced in written English. Apart from trying to shake any pursuing immigration authorities, his initial adoption of the name Lemnos was because this was the simplest name to write on cheques, documents and the like. He could speak seven languages as a result of his 20 years wandering the world as a seaman, but never got the hang of written English.

Peter and Helen sold up in about 1935 and semi retired to Sydney where Peter became a part-time cook in son Bill’s café in George Street opposite Anthony Horden's, purchased in 1934 after some amusing negotiations on his behalf by his father and Theo Fardouly. Most of the Fardouly children lived with the Polychronis’ as they reached their majority and moved off to Sydney, George being first to leave and becoming one of Bill Polychrone’s first café employees in 1934. Peter died in Rockdale in 1945, the son of Constantine and Olga, and his descendants can probably lay claim to being the only bearers of the unusual Polychrone surname in Australia.

They still have descendants around the region. Ena married Don Robertson in 1925 at Byron Bay, while Olga married Vincent Granatelli in 1926 in Lismore. Their son, Thomas Charles Stephen (Tommy) Granatelli, became a police constable in Lismore in the late 1940s and has since retired as a Sergeant back in town. The Granatellis, amongst the very early Italian immigrants to Lismore, established the popular mini supermarket opposite Trinity College on Leycester Street in the early 1950s. Both Ena and Olga had worked as waitresses in the Fardouly restaurant.


Bavea Families

In the mid war years Peter Nick Bavea, aka Peter Peters, arrived in Lismore to acquire or establish a business at an unknown location, but is probably the 'Mr A. Dimond' who opened a fruiterer's business in South Lismore in early 1916. He had landed as a 16yr old in 1909 and spent time in Inverell and Narrabri prior to joining his brothers, Jack and Jim, at Barraba in early 1913. Together they ran the Crystal Refreshment Palace until Peter took himself off to play on The Corso at Manly in 1916, but only remaining for a short period until relieved by Jack. His decision to then test the hospitality in Lismore may have been due to the Manly shop getting knocked about during the riots. But he seems to have returned to Manly a year or so later, leaving the Lismore outlet in the hands of a manager, probably Harry Lakis for a period, until returning sometime after his marriage to Mary Francis Jones in 1919. (He and Jack were both bankrupted and married in 1919, Jack to the Scottish immigrant Matilda York Craig. Shortly after Peter returned to Lismore Jack and Matilda went off to Narrabri to go into partnership with Archie Gavrily.)

But about a year earlier, in mid1918, the mysterious A. Dimond returned to town to open Dimond’s Restaurant in the original Andrulakis shop in Woodlark (next to Brown & Jolly), boasting that the place had been given a big makeover and advising that Mr Dimond has had ample experience in the Homeland, and aided by Mrs Dimond, an Australian born and bred, patrons may be assured their wants will be well ministered to…. This has to Bavea, probably still wary of soldiers showing their love of Greek cooking, but Mrs Dimond is a mystery, given the 1919 Sydney marriage (in a Greek Orthodox ceremony.) As well as the usual ‘hot meals at any hour’, he also boasted that the makeover had introduced the latest ‘silver grill’, whatever that was, and offered a full range of small goods, fresh fish, fruit and vegies, etc, that he could deliver anywhere around town.

By early 1919 Dimond was a member of the Chamber of Commerce with Nick Poulos and was one of the bigger fruit and veggie wholesalers in town, mainly sourcing his stuff from the Tablelands, so much so that he publicly advised that he was shutting down the dining room side of the business to expand the premises, but still retaining a drinks/confectionery/light refreshments service at the front. Shortly after the renovations he had to suffer a flood which almost matched the monster of 1917, which may have had a bearing on his disappearance from the scene by Oct1919 when Peter Jim Feros took over and resurrected a ‘first class restaurant.’

[Along with the Dimond/Bavea/Feros machinations, the period 1919/20 marked a changing of the guard and rapid turnover in all cafes across the region. Why this should be so is a mystery, but the region’s rising economic fortunes possibly had a bearing, as 1919 thru 1922 saw a boom in the dairy and banana industries and concomitant valuation increases in most towns. The sellers probably took advantage of capital gains, while the buyers probably thought the boom would go on forever.]

Whatever the 1917/18 intrigues, upon return to Lismore in Dec1919 Peter, now calling himself Bavea, acquired the Allied Tea Rooms from Mrs Johnson and established the Garden of Roses Café at 41 Woodlark, in the original home of Lismore’s very first soda fountain, a few doors west of Feros. The place was given a makeover and the business re-registered in Mary’s name (and other odd goings-on), but after a fire and another makeover in mid 1920 the place re-emerged under the sole proprietorship of Peter, who appears to be the first café proprietor in Lismore to start advertising as a ‘Sundae Shop.’ He was an aggressive marketer and in early 1921 came up with the gimmick of opening a booth at the racecourse every Friday and Saturday, which laid the foundations for a general catering business. The building housing the cafe was sold by George Larkin to Maloney & Wilson, the developers of the original Comino site, in late 1921 for £156 per foot, a record for Woodlark Street frontage. Shortly afterwards and inexplicably Bavea began calling himself the manager of the Garden of Roses rather than the proprietor, perhaps implying that one of the other brothers, probably Jim, had arrived in town by then to take up partnership shares.

Around late 1923, shortly after the Great Barrow Wars, he passed the business to his brother Jack and wandered off to Brisbane for about a year before acquiring the Royal Hotel at Mundubbera, trading as Peters & Co with Victor Castrisos as a partner. He was divorced in Sydney in 1925 and shortly afterwards left Castrisos with the Royal and moved a few miles away to acquire another pub at Byrnestown, trading as Peter Nick Peters. A few years later he came back to Lismore, using his old Dimond tradename upon acquisition of the ex-café of Menus Crethar in mid 1931. But a year or so later he disappeared to Melbourne, where he was still ensconced when he enlisted for WW2 service. Many years later he returned to Sydney where he died in 1984, aged 91.

Meanwhile Jack and Jim carried on in Lismore. It looks like Jim was the brother left to sell up at Barraba in 1919/20, probably coming to town shortly afterwards, but certainly ahead of Jack. It seems he was the initiator of the catering business when they acquired a 7 seat Studebaker in late 1922 to transport the wherewithal to the various picnics, banquets and general functions they contracted for. But outside this task it seems to have been a white elephant and was continually advertised for hire, under Jim’s name, until sold in mid 1923 during the ‘barrow wars’ debacle. Thereafter the business reverted to a traditional café, offering three-course meals for 1/6d and homemade takeaway pies for 3d, but probably steering clear of fruit until again reorientated in the late 1920s. Jim’s circumstances thereafter are a mystery. He enlisted from Sydney for WW2 service and afterwards is believed to have joined Peter in Melbourne.

Jack remained the stayer. He appears to have sold out of his Narrabri partnership with Archie Gavrily around 1923, presumably coming to town almost immediately to buy into his brothers’ partnership. In the late 1920s, when Peter returned to Lismore, it seems something odd happened, probably the usual partnership blood letting. Bavea Bros was dissolved and both Peter and Jack began operating separately, although Peter’s machinations are uncertain until he pops up as owner of the ex-Crethar busines in mid 1931. In 1929 Jack and Matilda reoriented the business with an emphasis on external catering, while in early 1930 the cafe underwent some sort of subtle reorientation to become Bavea’s Garden of Roses and offering ‘any kind of catering’, although still providing the standard three-course meals at 1/6d. In mid 1930 they opened Bavea’s Garden of Roses Catering Rooms in a large open space above Money Saver’s Department Store (45 Woodlark, later Mewings Department Store), and began heavily extolling the virtues of their new service to groups holding meetings, socials and wedding breakfasts. This niche market was already well catered for, particularly by Mrs Charlton at the Apollo Hall for large functions and the Vlismas Bros for intermediate sized occasions. (And in 1931 Forrester of the Mecca also started offering an ‘away catering service.’)

And then 6wks after opening the Catering Rooms a ginormous auction, ‘on account Mrs Bavea, saw Marble Counter with Soda Fountain complete, Fountain Back Bar, large Counter, Show Case, 16ft large Back Show Case with shelving and mirrors, 20 marble topped tables… down to pots, pans and cutlery, go under the auctioneer’s hammer, implying that they couldn’t sell the café as a going concern or were going through some convoluted process of establishing ‘fair value’ for a prospective new owner. A week later, 21Jul30, Jack announced that having given up my shop in Woodlark street… I now intend going in entirely for the CATERING, either in my rooms known as “Garden of Roses Catering” above Moneysavers Ltd, or any part of town or district. No function too large or too small….

The first function was to entertain the recently reformed Lismore branch of the ALP. (And being politically neutral, entertained the Country Party in early Feb31.) By 1933 they had won the contract to cater for Italian functions, the first one at the Apollo Hall and dubbed The Great Italian Social, mc’d by Mario Zanardo and drawing 360 Italians from all over the place. How Mrs Charlton reacted to this undercutting/undermining is an interesting question. Six months later he got to cater for an Italian wedding at the Masonic Hall in Magellan, 70 guests assembling to toast the union of Anita Cornelia Granatelli and Guilio Bassan.

In Dec1933, a few months after the Italian knees-up at the Apollo, another mysterious auction took place on ‘account Mrs Bavea’..., offering ‘contents of caterer’s shop in Woodlark St’, which included ‘Large electric range, ‘magnet‘ electric mixer and motor, large shop ice chest, marble tables, 18ft counter, scales, shelves, lolly jars and host of sundries.’  This shop was at 59 Woodlark, next ‘Dimond’s’ original café at 57 Woodlark now home to Jones Tea Rooms. It seems that the wine saloon at 59 Woodlark had shut its doors in early 1931 in the face of the new competition brought by the Italian Giovani Marangon across the road. In Sep1932 the place was given a makeover in conjunction with the building next door, home to a branch of Glynn’s Stores, both buildings owned by W.A. Taylor, and the Baveas subsequently had a temporary presence, apparently expanding into both shops. (No 59 had become Woodfield’s Wine Shop pre WW1 and was next door to Nelson’s original Wine Shop at No 57, which went through the hands of Lakis and Bangi before falling to ‘Dimond’ and thence to Feros Bros and Miss Jones (and downstream becoming the Uneeda Milk Bar), while No 59 temporarily reverted to a wine shop after the Baveas moved out before a drapery settled in for a long sojourn.)

Whether Jack and Matilda had operated No 59 as a café outlet or simply a base for their catering business is a mystery. But by Nov1930 Jack seems to have been doing the bulk of his business from his home base in North Lismore, advertising that For Any Catering, Bavea can do it. And seems to have abandoned the CBD ‘Moneysaver’ rooms and operated exclusively from his large home in Terania Street by early 1931. This temporary return to the CBD therefore, may have been an attempt to re-enter the retail café business until word-of-mouth built his catering trade. Just before the auction he was advertising Bavea’s Catering - ring 430 or call 59 Woodlark. Wedding Breakfasts, Birthday Parties, or any catering, town or country. Whatever the circumstances, shortly afterwards the business morphed into Bavea’s Catering Service and over the next 25yrs Jack catered for weddings and functions at nearly every village hall in the Richmond region, often completing a circle in provisioning wedding feasts for the children of the parents he had earlier catered for. He grew apart from the Greek community and upon his death in 1973 was given a Presbyterian send off.

Amongst the wreath layers at his funeral was the RSL. Whether Jack was ever a member is uncertain, but just before Anzac Day in 1933 he, on behalf of the Greek community of Lismore, has presented Lismore Returned Soldiers’ League with a Greek flag as an appreciation of the good work that body is carrying out and as a token of friendship that was felt by all Greeks whose countrymen fought side by side with Australians in the Great War. Mr Bavea further expressed the wish that the work of the League might be blessed in their efforts on behalf of less fortunate comrades…, the gesture rating a mention in the Sydney Morning Herald. At this time the RSL was one of the leading fundraisers helping the destitute unemployed, many ex-diggers living at the Albert Park Unemployed Camp. His actions may have been part of an orchestrated Greek campaign to buy into the White Australia club: - two days later Antonios Lampros, recently naturalized proprietor of the Paragon Café, ran a huge advert headlined ‘Gallipoli!’…May we, in whose blood throbs the spirit of Anzac, never forget this day, or the flag their deeds have made immortal…. They honoured their flag even unto dying for it, handed on to us who live…. Ours is the honour, then, of perpetuating their memory…. And how Bavea and Lampros managed to usurp Angelo Crethar’s role as the spokesman for the Greek community is another mystery.

Archie Theo Gavrily followed Jack Nick Bavea, his old Narrabri partner, to Lismore in about 1924, initially working at the Garden of Roses until subletting Theo Fardouly’s Olympia Café around 1925. Twenty two year old Archie had landed in 1912 after 5yrs learning the catering trade in Alexandria, Egypt. Upon leaving Lismore he had various adventures around the Tablelands until settling at Barraba just before the war. His daughter Golfa married Peter Psaltis, a banana grower of Burringbar, and his son John married Irene Notaras of the illustrious Grafton family.  

Archie Gavrily, Lismore ~1925
(Photo annotated 'Read Bros Studios Lismore')
(Courtesy Gloria Weston)


Feros Families

While Peter Dimitri Feros was the nominal owner of the business acquired from Dimond/Bavea in 1919, he immediately began trading as Feros Bros with his brother Jack, continuing to do so when they moved into the shop next door to the Garden of Roses in ~1921, Jack acquiring the freehold from Maloney & Wilson in 1927. (The old shop became the Australian Tea Rooms in the hands of W.P. Hawkins until he handed the lease to Miss K. Jones, late of the Olympia Cafe and Sundae Shop, in early 1922. She variously traded as Jones Refreshment Rooms and Dudley Tea Rooms until late 1935 when the place was remodelled to house an up-to-date milk bar.... Miss Jones has removed to Magellan-street, and the new lessee of the Woodlark-street will be Mr Jack Miller.... Jack (possibly aka Mahommet Ishmail) traded as Miller's Milk Bar until moving to Queensland in mid 1937, at which time the Uneeda Milk Bar settled in for a long innings.)

Peter Feros had come from the Kytherian village of Mitata in 1914 and after a few years wandering around Brisbane and the Darling Downs went to Bellingen to join his cousin Mick Nick Feros. They moved to Dorrigo in about 1917/18 and started an innovative carrier business by delivering supplies to the isolated logging camps by packhorse. Jack, on his second trip to Australia, joined them in 1918, arriving via Philadelphia after service in the Balkan Wars and somehow managing to beat the restrictions on Greeks entering Australia. He spent a couple of months at Dorrigo but seems to have spent most of his time at Coffs Harbour, perhaps running the depot side of the business. Both he and Peter came to Lismore in late 1919 while Mick put down roots at Dorrigo, building the magnificent Dorrigo Hotel in 1925.

Peter’s carrier business at Dorrigo must have been lucrative as he was able to acquire the freehold title to four properties in Little Keen Street in about 1920 and held them through to at least the late 1920s, and possibly beyond, becoming the landlord of a number of Greek families over the years. He was another aggressive marketer and, with all the other Greeks (but unlike most of their Australian competitors), traded on a Sunday by paying for a special license. In 1923, after the debacle of the ‘barrow wars’, he established himself permanently in Toowoomba, where he was joined by brother Nick, previously of Ballina, in 1939. His carrier experience at Dorrigo proved invaluable in enabling him to ride-out the Depression as a successful hawker, ranging all over the Darling Downs and beyond.

In late 1930 Feros Bros, by then only Jack, moved next door into the vacant Bavea Bros Garden of Roses shop, housed within the same 2-storey building, apparently leaving Peter Stathis as temporary manager of the fruit shop. Vasiliki Feros (nee Samios), who had married the 32yr old John/Jack at Tweed Heads in 1924, became the registered title holder of this site, which probably passed to Jack upon her death in 1951, although the freehold machinations are a bit vague until 1972 when her brother-in-law, Peter Feros of Toowoomba, presented himself as the owner. (The Garden of Roses was simply rebranded as The Feros Cafe).

Jack was also a freehold titleholder, possibly with a Little Keen Street property, but he and Vasiliki mostly lived around the corner at 27 Zadoc Street, the same house occupied by Athena Andrulakis and possibly a boarding house owned by her, which in 1930 became the shop front for the ex-Bangalow Chinese herbalist, George Sun. Feros Bros continued to trade as both wholesalers and retailers, probably acting as the Lismore distributors for the carrier businesses of the Feros Bros of Ballina and Byron Bay. In 1936 they leased the shop to a draper, spending a year or so in Byron Bay and Greece before moving to Rockhampton with Vasiliki’s brother, Peter Samios of Bangalow, to take over the Blue Bird Café. (Their old shop was resurrected as The 'New' Canberra Cafe by the Carkagis family in 1939.)

In the late 1920s/early 1930s came another set of Feros Bros, Basil and Alexander John Feros, late of Mullumbimby, to occupy Feros Bros old fruit shop next door. They had sold their Mullumbimby café to Vasiliki’s brothers in 1922 and moved to Sydney, buying into the partnership that ran the salubrious 500 seat Loosans Restaurant, dubbed the The one time Mecca of Epicureans... in its obituary upon becoming an early victim of the Depression in Oct30. But fortunately the Feros Bros had pulled out by then.

In early 1932 Jack Feros commissioned Colonel Board, the region’s leading architect, to redesign the shop/s, the place/s re-emerging to temporarily take the honour as the most up-to-date in Lismore and allegedly as the first to introduce the neon sign, at which time Jack took out two Sunday trading licenses, presumably meaning that he was the registered owner of his cousins’ business. It seems that Basil and Alex concentrated on the fruit side of the business while Jack and Vasiliki ran the restaurant.

The Greek Orthodox marriage of Alex Feros and Thelma Thirlwell,
Feb34 Sydney.
(Courtesy kythera-family web site)

In Nov34 Mrs Thelma Feros purchased the Refreshment Room and Cafe Business..., of John and Mrs Feros... and after renovations and innovations this business will be conducted as a modern and up-to-date Cafe.... And in Dec35 they proclaimed that A modern milk bar has been installed in the popular tea and refreshment room conducted by Feros Brothers..., shortly after which John and Vasiliki took themselves off for a trip home to Kythera, at which time the Syrian draper Anthony Michael seems to have occupied both Feros shops. Alex and Basil (Vasilios) then apparently acquired the fruit shop business of the Italian Capelin family at 43 Magellan Street. Their nephew, John Nick Feros, came to work for them when they moved to this new site, but wandered off to Evans Head when they resettled back in Sydney in the late 1930s.

Thereafter there is no record of any Feros in Lismore until 1946 when John/Jack and Vasiliki returned to town to become fruiterers at 54 Magellan Street, although Charles Nick Feros, the brother of Mick of Dorrigo, turned up sometime after his war service, working in one of the cafes as his day job while continuing to move around the region with the Jim Sharman Boxing Troupe. In 1947 he married Efstathia Zervos and settled in Sarina, Queensland, where they operated the Sunshine Café for 10yrs before relocating to South Brisbane to open Feros Oysters (and Charlie to acquire the nickname ‘Oyster Feros’ along the way.) He retired in 1971 and died in Brisbane in 1986, aged 76.

Jack Jim Feros was joined in partnership by his cousin Peter George Feros (Pikouli) of Ballina in 1946, shortly after which Jack took himself off to the seaside air of East Ballina to run a small soda fountain joint, only to return in Oct50. Vasiliki died in Oct51 and Jack retired to Byron Bay to live with brother George, while Peter and family carried on the Feros presence in Lismore, discounting the short sojourn of another Charles Nick Feros who turned up to acquire the Vogue Cafe of his Bavea in-laws in late 1962 and retreated to Manly in late 1966. (Charles, born 1933 Ballina, had been in partnership with his father Nick in a Brisbane cafe since they'd both left Toowoomba in 1953.)


Byron Bay ~1936
L to R: Jim Miller (Miliotis), Jack Dimitri Feros, Vasiliki Feros (nee Samios), Tony Dimitri Feros, Charlie Nick Feros
(Courtesy Maria Masselos)

[In Aug39 the Carkagis Bros, late of The Northern Star cafe, combined both ‘Feros shops’  to relaunch The 'New' Canberra Cafe in the ‘Larkin Building’, but sometime postwar the building was split again, the western side housing a counter and display case for the retailing of Adam’s cakes and the eastern side becoming a simple milk bar. In 1954/55 Mr Clare took over and again combined the site and started dispensing his magic ice cream mix. In 1963 he sold out to the Bird family, Warren and Maria, unrelated to Johnny of the fish shop across the road, who can take the credit for introducing the first self-service Coca Cola water box to town. (The thing was topped up with ice once a day). They acquired the freehold from Peter Feros in 1972 and 6yrs later leased out the business, still doing a good trade and dispensing 10 gallons of milkshakes per day. There was a series of lessees through to 20Nov2006 when the shop shut its doors forever, having served as a feedlot for 108yrs (discounting a couple of years as a drapery).]

Kritharis Families – 1

The first Kritharis into Lismore appears to be George Crithary, the son of Peter and Gregoria (nee Kanelli) of the northern Kytherian village of Karavas. He came to town in 1917 and stayed for 2yrs before wandering off to Inverell and thence Casino in 1922 to work for his uncle Simon Cordatos. He had landed as a 17yr old in 1914 and toured all over the place, including a stint at Comino's Olympia Cafe at Leeton, before eventually putting down roots at Boggabri, shortly after his 1924 Glen Innes marriage to Natalia Megaloconomou in a dual ceremony with Nick Emmanuel Kalokerinos and Maria Megaloconomou, who begat the later Lismore identity, the remarkable Dr Archie Kalokerinos.

The next Kritharis to turn up was George's bestman, the prominent Angelo Victor Crethar, who arrived from Ballina in mid 1923, at which time Lismore’s population was 9270 and growing at a rate of about 250/300 people per year. Later in the year he acquired the Canberra Cafe from George Patrinos at 17 Woodlark Street, revamping it into Crethar’s Sundae Shop, trading as Crethar Bros, although it’s believed his brother Menus didn’t join him from Tamworth until about 1924, at which time Angelo still owned a Sundae Shop in River Street, Ballina, left in the management hands of his cousin Harry Nicholas Crethar.

L to R standing: George Crithary, Archie Gavrily, Angelo Crethar,
and probably Nick Kalokerinos sitting.
(Believed taken Lismore or Glen Innes ~1922)
(Courtesy Gloria Weston)


Angelo sold his Ballina interest to Comino Bros in mid 1924, at the same time starting a major upgrade of his Lismore shop, part of which involved the installation of a new electrical contrivance for the manufacture of fruit drinks from the whole fruit… imported from America and Crethar Bros is the first firm outside the metropolitan area to have one installed.… Drinks made before your eyes.... This device consumed an enormous amount of fruit, for which the Crethars were continually offering top prices to local producers. (And drinks were a good way of disposing of spoilt or rotten fruit, as all proprietors in the fruit business found, having told the taxman that it had to be written off and thrown away. The Greek modus operandi  involved 'no waste', and creative solutions led to a range of exotic fruit drinks dispensed from their shops.)


Clive Building, Woodlark Street, 1930
Cohen's Jewellers to the left and
Crethar's Sundae Shop to the right.
(Courtesy Drew Collection)

At this time too, Spencer Cottee’s magic ‘Passiona’ hit the streets. He was a marketing genius and started an advertising blitz in late 1924, along with free samples sent to Government House and the American Consulate. ‘A new fruit drink – known as Passiona – has been placed on the market.… Made from passionfruit grown locally…. fruit eating – and may I add fruit drinking – is a necessity, not a luxury, and that it is the only certain way of staying the rapidly increasing plague of cancer as well as….' Within a month of listing he had 25 cafes/refreshment rooms/sundae-shops throughout the district stocking the stuff. Alas not one Greek, as they had invested heavily in their own drink manufacturing equipment and concocted their own secret recipes for various syrups, presumably including passionfruit syrup. Over the next few years Cottee went about the countryside addressing Primary Producers Union meetings and exhorting farmers to start planting vines: … Supposing 75 per cent of the people were to drink one drink a day for 100 days, it would take £31,000,000 worth of the raw material to supply their requirements, and this can be produced off 250,000 acres in this North Coast District. Pretty soon it was the most popular aerated drink on the North Coast and making a motza for Bryant’s cordial factory in Keen Street. By 1926 Cottee had set up a factory in Sydney from where his company, ‘Cottees’, went on to become a national brand name. (Bryant’s in the meantime began extolling the virtues of their latest elixirs, ‘Claret Cup and 'Monsa', the latter a type of aerated lemon squash also made from real fruit rather than essences.)

In mid 1926 Angelo opened his premier Sundarium in Molesworth after Lance & Co, tailors and outfitters, re-divided their shop. He called in Colonel Board to design the shop front, internal layout and colour scheme. The place was a first with openable skylights and large rear windows opening onto Nesbitt Lane. The shop front was described as one of the most attractive in Lismore. All tables were built from Queensland maple and topped with plate glass, while gold leaf was used above the dado. Angelo maintained that his soda fountain was ‘the very latest production of its kind in the whole world…, the whole being encased in highly polished marble…. Attached to the fountain is a complete refrigerating plant, electrically driven, and automatically controlled…. The culinary department, which consists of packing room, still room, and scullery…. In the still room are the oven, the pastry mixer, and the ice cream mixer. The oven is a steel cabinet type, measuring 8ft 6in x 7ft 6in and 6ft high. This is an immense size for a pastry oven, but like the soda fountain, is the most up-to-date of its kind procurable…. The pastry mixer and ice cream mixer are both electrically driven.…’ Nowhere in the whole full-page advertorial is their mention of a kitchen (notwithstanding the ambiguous 'scullery'), implying that Angelo was still into the low-overheads light-refreshment business. Over the next few months he advertised regularly with a dazzling range of new sundaes, freezes and drinks.

Although there’s still a mystery surrounding his movements, it seems his brother Menus (Minas) stuck his head in for a while around 1924/25 but didn’t permanently relocate from Tamworth until about mid1926, coincidental with Angelo’s new extravaganza. Menus married Maria Vanges, sister of George of Glen Innes, in 1922, the same year he went into partnership with George and Peter Nick Tambakis, aka Theodore Bros, in Tamworth’s Royal Café. But around the mid 1920s he and the Theodores seem to have parted company, splitting the shop and taking half each. Nevertheless, a year or so later it looks like he sold his half back to the Theodores and came to Lismore, where he subsequently repeated the shop splitting exercise with Angelo. It’s Lismore folklore that there was simmering animosity between he and Angelo following the division of the spoils from the estate of their brother Harry, who died in Ballina in 1919.

Kythera 1935
Maria and Menus Crethar standing, with Theodora Mentis (nee Crethar, sister of Menus) and her daughter Efrosini/Frosso (who married Peter Poulos of Ballina.)
(Courtesy Harry Crethar)


Upon Menus’s arrival in town to take up hands-on management in the Woodlark shop Angelo embarked on expansion, acquiring a Keen sundaeium in 1927 and another in Woodlark in 1929, sometimes advertising under the auspices of Crethar Bros but also simply as ‘Crethars’. The last ice-creamery was established next to the original shop, which Menus was still running, marking a less than amiable end of Crethar Bros. That seemed to be the cue for Angelo to take his first long holiday on Kythera, leaving Angelo Crones as a new partner in charge of the Woodlark shop, but a mystery manager in the premier shop. His prominence within the town was demonstrated when, in Sep29, he sent back 5 of his holiday snaps of Greek ruins for publication in the Northern Star, taking up two thirds of a page of valuable space at a time when the paper was demanding money-up-front from advertisers as the serious Depression approached, and when it needed all the space it could muster to sing the praises of the Country Party and prevent the wicked Labour Party from winning the Federal election of Oct29. (Alas, the Bolsheviks were sworn in a couple of days before Wall Street collapsed, marking the official start of the Great Depression.)

And upon return in late Dec29 Angelo was formally welcomed home by the Star… On Saturday last Mr A. Crethar returned to Lismore from a trip to Europe, which commenced in April last. He visited most of the European countries, but states that he did not see any town that appealed to him more than Lismore as a place in which to conduct business….  Two years later he, along with the editor and chairman of the Star, was amongst the 35 select citizens of Lismore who formed the Rotary Club.

A month or so before his return however, his coveted brand name, ‘Crethars’, was being imitated by a new upstart, Harry Crethar in Keen, as well as Menus, prompting his Molesworth manager to take out an advert: Crethar’s Sundae Shop in Molesworth Street is in NO WAY CONNECTED with other businesses in Lismore under the same name… and letting the new arriviste, the Vlismas Bros, know that the maestro was on his way back by concocting a range of new confections – the mysterious ‘Dancing Times’ and ‘Cabaret Girl’ Sundaes amongst those appearing in Crethar adverts (and maybe suggesting how Angelo was spending his holiday). Perhaps these actions were dictated by Angelo, very au fait with the power of publicity and advertising, upon being advised by his manager of machinations occurring in his absence. (And to ensure the message got through to a wider audience, in mid1931 he took out an advert in the Sydney Morning Herald stating his shop was in no way connected whatever with any other....) 

Whatever the circumstances, Menus then started getting his affairs in order and prepared to return home, finally selling all his worldly possessions from his home at 51 Ballina St in Aug 1930 (under the mysterious name of N.P. Crethar), but probably leaving an agent to dispose of the business, which went to ‘Dimond, Lambros & Co’ in May31 (again with the name N. Crethar on the documents). He came back alone in 1934, probably to tidy up loose ends, before returning permanently a year later. But for some reason, maybe lingering fear of imitation from the Keen Street Crethars, Angelo continued to end his adverts with Kindly Note: We Have NO BRANCHES into 1933, while continuing to emphasize the upmarket nature of his establishment: Our refreshing drinks are served in crystal thin glasses that represent the very best in soda fountain service....

Having tidied up his business structure Angelo continued his expansion with a series of other partners; the Star Court with Greg Londy in 1930 and the Vogue with Nick Crones in 1936, although how the other shops were managed until they were sold is a mystery. Upon his return from Kythera Angelo started transforming the Molesworth Street business into Crethar’s - Lismore’s Leading Tea Rooms, which was destined to become Lismore’s most salubrious restaurant a few years later, giving him license to assume the Toque at the top of the food chain. In early 1932, in a counter-intuitive Depression strategy, he and the Feros Café in Woodlark were amongst the first businesses in Lismore to spend money upgrading (and a first with Neon signage.) Following his successful foray into the Woodlark property market with Nick Crones in 1932, he became joint owner of the Molesworth site with partner J. C. McIntosh Jnr, allegedly the largest shareholder in Northern Star Ltd, who seemed to be silent partner to a number of businesses in town.

At the second of the weekly Rotary meetings in early Dec31 Angelo was invited to address the forum, along with future Northern Star Editor, Mr W.T. Care, who gave a talk on Depression conditions in Britain, having just returned from a holiday home. In 1933 Angelo’s address on the history of Greece, amongst the gathering being Mr A.D. McLean, Chairman of Northern Star Limited and a Vice President of the Lismore branch of the Country Party, and the NS Editor, now the aforementioned Mr Care, resulted in some very favourable publicity for the Greeks. And his membership of this exclusive group of the town’s movers and shakers may have been the catalyst for the Star becoming a crusader on law n’ order, following Angelo’s mugging in mid 1933.


All through early 1933 Lismore had experienced an influx of ‘undesirables’ and an increase in assaults, robberies and burglaries, and calls for action by the Chamber of Commerce, the Mayor and others, all of whom reckoned that Lismore presented a gold mine to these blokes because of its ‘relative’ immunity from the Depression. But it wasn’t until Angelo’s mugging that the Star was galvanised into an editorial campaign, which eventually resulted in new by-laws on beggars, buskers and hawkers, full manning of the police department and a crackdown on ‘vagrants and loiterers’, the all-night burning of street lights and the extension of such lighting throughout the town. (But by late 1934 it was dayjavoo all over again with another influx of ‘undesirables’ and an increase in robberies and burglaries.)

In another talk to Rotary in Feb1935, after the membership cap of the elite group had been lifted to 44, Angelo spoke of his recent holiday in Papua and New Guinea, supported with home movies of the trip, all of which left most of his struggling fellow Greek café proprietors gobsmacked. The weekly gatherings were held in a variety of places, usually hotel dining rooms, until Angelo’s banqueting room became the permanent home in the late 1930s, and his café became the haunt of the ‘in crowd’. While the Capitol Café was arguably more posh, Angelo’s continued as the favourite rendezvous of Lismore’s elite, perhaps because of the widening Rotary connections.

It’s believed a second storey was added in the mid to late 1930s and through continual makeovers he developed the most exclusive restaurant on the North Coast, with light refreshments downstairs and posh restaurant, with silver service, on top. The new 1939 edifice carried on the rolling upgrades and after the destruction of the 1945 flood the restaurant was again renovated and made even more opulent, by which time it had become the favoured restaurant of Lismore’s glitterati, particularly the after theatre dress circle crowd. In one misguided quest to indulge the upmarket clientele he introduced silver goblets for the serving of hot milkshakes during winter, quickly finding that the things were too hot to handle and causing much amusement amongst his competitors. He was reserved by nature and was perceived to have cultivated a touch of an aristocratic air, which at times got up the noses of his compatriots, but he cut a fine figure and was ever the gentleman.

Architect Colonel F.J. Board's proposal for Crethar's Air Conditioned Cafe, as published by the Northern Star on 19Jul39.

The new building..., will house one of the most modern restaurants in the State... and... will leave nothing to be desired in the way of comfort and beauty, and the completed building will mark another step in Lismore’s progress.... A new type of circular cubicle featured at the New York World Fair is being introduced and... It is the first of its kind in the State....
At the opening in Nov39 the Star again boasted that the 90 seat cafe was
One of the most modern cafes outside Sydney... and from an aesthetic viewpoint the interior decoration is probably unsurpassed in any building on the North Coast.... The soda fountain, which extends for 34 feet along one side of the cafe, is believed to be one of the largest outside Sydney.... The back-bar makes an attractive background for the fountain, having butt-bevelled mirrors... and four columns of light illuminate the ends of each mirror....

Angelo finally ended bachelorhood upon marrying an Australian girl, the young Margot Souter, after the war and moving to suburbia. He remained a staunch member of Rotary, a stalwart of the Golf Club (secretary/manager 1956 to 64) and became the defacto leader of the Northern Rivers Greek community through to about the end of the war. Thereafter he grew away from the Greek community and upon the reformation of The Greek Community of Lismore his brother Eric became President, and remained as such for 4yrs until passing the baton to Leo Manias who in turn passed it to Charlie Souris, who wore the mantle until 1970 when the organization folded. Eric’s son, ‘Young Harry’ Crethar, is now the defacto leader of the Lismore community and continues to hold the remaining Greeks together.

At the beginning of the war Angelo organised the North Coast Greeks to contribute liberally to a fund to purchase a fighter aircraft for the Commonwealth, and upon the invasion of Greece was instrumental in setting up other funds for the Greek war effort. One such meeting at his café in late 1940 raised £210 within minutes for The Central Greek War Relief Fund and a permanent committee, consisting of Peter Manias, Nick Crones, Len Sargent and Lou Katsaros, was formed to raise and administer further collections. A couple of weeks later he was the keynote speaker at a function hosted by Murwillumbah Rotary at which he amazed everyone by using some contraption called an epidiascope to outline the history of Greece and the progress of the war. He was well supported at the function by a large contingent of Greeks from all over the Tweed, Brunswick and Richmond districts. (And for a change the typical Greek factionalism never arose and all remained united in the common cause.)

He had the honour of leading the rejoicing on the North Coast over the liberation of Kythera in Sep1944. Quoting him on 3Oct44 the Northern Star, under the prominent heading North Coast Greeks Jubilant Over Kythera Relief, had this to say:
Nowhere was the news of the relief of the island of Kythera by Allied forces more joyfully received than in Lismore and the North Coast generally. Most of the Greek community in Lismore, Grafton, Casino, Kyogle, Ballina, Byron Bay, Mullumbimby and Murwillumbah are Kytherians.
In case he had not heard the glad tidings, Mr Angelo Crethar, of Lismore, had telephone calls from fellow Kytherians in Murwillumbah and Grafton immediately after the official announcement was made on Monday.
“The liberation of our island from German domination is great news for us,” he said yesterday. “We have every reason to feel jubilant and happy that the freedom of Kythera has been restored. The whole Greek community on the North Coast share in that jubilation. It is a great relief to them. Many Kytherians here were worried about their relatives and friends on the island and now they are looking forward to hearing from them soon and learning about their condition and how they have fared during the enemy occupation….”
Before the war the population of Kythera was about 20,000. The Kytherians are of a very fine stock and being an enterprising people many of their young men, finding their opportunities limited at home, have emigrated to Australia and America and become good citizens of their adopted country. There are about 20 Kytherians and their families in Lismore
. (The 1947 census shows 231 Greek-born good citizens in the para one towns, excluding Grafton.)

The following day, probably due hangovers, Lismore’s quota of £140,000 in the Second Victory Loan, received its biggest boost in one day’s trading since the beginning of the campaign…. A large portion of the £7010 invested in the loan yesterday came from nine members of the Greek community who, on receipt of news that the island of their birth, Kythera, had been liberated, invested liberally as a gesture of appreciation for the work done by the liberating forces…. (Angelo Crethar, Eric Crethar, Harry Crethar, Nick Crethar, Peter Crethar, Jack Nick Bavea, Nick Crones, Jack and Denny Panaretto. A couple of days later Jack and Denny, still celebrating Jack’s safe return from AIF service, threw in another £300, at the same time Lou Katsaros tossed in a few bob. 

Angelo sold his business in 1956 and after about 10yrs retirement in Lismore and Sydney settled at Shelly Beach in Ballina, from where he ascended to the five star restaurant in the sky in 1974.


Kritharis Families – 2

Angelo’s cousin, Haralambos Demetrios (Harry Jim – ‘Old Harry’) Crethar, arrived in town from Glen Innes in late 1925 and seems to have worked for Angelo for a while, perhaps as manager of one of his shops, until acquiring his own fruit shop down the southern end of Keen in 1927. Nineteen year old Harry had landed with his cousin Peter Nicholas Crethary in late 1922 and both went immediately to Glen Innes, Harry to work with George Vanges and Peter to initially work with his cousin Peter Angelo Crithary before opening his own business a year later. Both Harry and Peter had arrived from Egypt, but how long Harry had been working there is a mystery.

Then came Harry’s brother Nick and sister Zafiro, 17yrs and 28yrs respectively when they landed in 1924, followed by younger sisters Artimis and Marigo in 1927, at which time Nick established a business at Coraki. The dual wedding of Zafiro and Arti in 1929, to George Theo Poulos of Lismore and Harry Con Fardouly of Inverell respectively, was one of the grandest Greek ceremonies ever held in Lismore. The officiating priest was The Very Rev Theofylactos Papathanasopoulos, Head of the Greek Orthodox Church in Australia, while the guests-of-honour were Mr L. Chrysanthopoulos, Consul-General for Greece, and Mr Theo Angelo Crithary, President of the Sydney Greek Community and earlier the Greek pioneer in Glen Innes. They stole all the publicity, with the priest’s georgeous vestments, gaining more comment that the bride’s attire. Bridesmaids were Misses Maisie Lemnos of Lismore, Dorothy Poulos of Cobar, Christina Coroneo of Glen Innes and Marigo Crethar of Lismore. Mrs Annie Peter Crethary (nee Coroneo) was maid of honour and one of the spokeswomen at the large reception at the Apollo Hall. (Harry and Nick then spent a couple of years on bread and water to pay for it all, although given a hand from Harry Fardouly in 1932 after he and George Combes of Tenterfield had a 5000 quid lottery win.) The last Crethar sister, Marigo, later married Harry Zanodakes and spent many years in North Queensland before retiring back to Lismore. 

Northern Star, Thursday 6Jun1929


Featuring at the same ceremony/ies was the baptism of Harry Theo Fardouly of Lismore: Lengthy Bible readings, chanting, incense, oil, lighted candles, and the entire immersion of the infant were parts of the ceremony… and considering the nature of the ordeal among a crowd of strangers young Fardouly put up a very good performance.

And Consul Chrysanthopoulos stated that the Greeks were not meeting their immigration quota of 600 per year, due to discouragement from their resident compatriots over employment prospects. 

Arriving in town with Harry Dimitri Crethar was Harry Nick Crethary, unconnected to Harry Dimitri’s shipmate. He was 17yrs old when he landed in 1914 and spent a couple of years at Dungog working for Victor Kritharis, perhaps connected to Angelo and Menus, thence Sydney before moving permanently to Ballina in 1920, although he had been visiting Ballina on and off over the previous six years. He came to Lismore in 1925, perhaps via Coraki, and took over the Poulos Byron Café in late 1929, probably working for Angelo in the interim. He gave the place a makeover, (including installation of the Latest up-to-date Frigidare Display Counter…, displaying Oysters, dressed poultry, Ham and Small Goods… See what you are buying….), and relaunched as Crethar’s Regent Sundae Shop, but quickly dropping the Crethar bit after a scare from Angelo. Down the track, just before he sold out to Harry Dimitri in 1931, the place took its permanent name as the Regent Café. He is believed to have spent some time in Glen Innes before settling in Brisbane.

A third Haralambos Kritharis around at the time was Harry John Crithary, who landed in 1925 and seems to immediately have come to town, allegedly becoming the first employee of Harry Nick upon his takeover of the Byron/Regent. But this Harry is the same bloke using the name Harry John Crethary who joined the Stathis & Cassimatis partnership in late 1929/early 1930 by acquiring Emmanuel Vlandis’s shares in the Richmond Fish Shop. Vlandis had acquired the Fresh Food Supply Co from Emmanuel Andronicos in 1927 and shortly afterwards took in Peter Stathis as a partner, followed by Peter’s brother-in-law, Mick Cassimatis, by at least mid 1928. Their café, on the outside of Woodlark Street, operated from 6AM to Midnight, 7 days a week. With this workload at least three shift managers would have been required.

Nevertheless, Harry John Crithary withdrew from the partnership in Feb31, a week after the record flood, and moved to Emmaville, at the same time Harry Jim Crethar acquired the Regent from Harry Nick Crethary. Harry John hung-in at Emmaville until 1935 when he returned to Kythera for some R & R, taking a 3yr cure before coming back to re-establish at Tenterfield. His brother, Peter John, the brother-in-law of Peter Nick of the Monterey, landed in 1928 and worked for various Crethars around town until acquiring a cafe at Woodenbong in the mid 1930s. (Got all that?)

Lismore Flood 1931
L to R outside Crethar's Sundae Shop: Peter John Crithary, Jack Panaretto, unknown female, Peter Nick Crethary, Nick Crones.
(Courtesy Matina King)


Molesworth Street 1931
(Courtesy Paul Panaretto)

A major mystery is Harry Jim’s acquisition of two Sunday trading licenses shortly after taking over the Regent in 1931, and continuing to renew two licenses into 1933. As with the Vlismas, the location and nature of the second outlet, if that’s the implication, remains obscure.

By 1932 trading was very tough and the café side of the business was becoming secondary to the place’s growth as a retail grocery outlet, competing directly with the rapidly expanding Department stores. Through 1932 and 33 the grocery, confectionery and fruit and veggie departments within the surviving stores, and the smaller specialist ‘Cash and Carry’ stores, along with the fish, poultry, fruit and veggie markets and stalls around the block, were offering a huge range of stuff, the Depression forcing many innovations in the fight for survival - McDermott’s even competing directly with the cafes by providing a light refreshment service to customers waiting for their orders to be filled (although the full service of the 'Department Store Cafeteria' never caught on in Lismore.)

Harry’s typical range included Fresh Rabbits 9d each, 1/5d pair; Norco Pork Sausages 6d/lb, Fresh Pigs Heads 6d each, Boiled or Baked Pigs Heads 6d each, Baked Rabbits 1/- each, Saveloys 1/- per doz, Pigs Trotters 1/- (cooked), Fresh Cooked Crabs 1/- each, Pork Fritz 11d/lb, Prime dressed poultry: hens 2/6d and 3/- each; roosters 3/-, 3/6d and 4/- each; drakes 3/6d each…, Fresh Schnapper 9d/lb…. And all while the Department Stores were offering the same stuff (AGRs: Schnapper Fillets 1/2d/lb, Cooked Lobsters 2/- each, Deep Sea Fish 8d/lb…. McDermotts: Choice Rabbits 1/6d pair, Norco Pigs’ Heads 6d each, Norco Pigs Trotters 9d/doz, Garlic and Pork Fritz 1/- per lb…. Mewings: Pigs’ Cheeks 3d each, Fresh Pork Sausages 4½d/lb, Pork Fritz 1/- per lb.) Big swings in the prices and products occurred through to the late 30s before things settled down. Harry was only able to compete by becoming the equivalent of the ‘corner store’ and remaining open from 6AM to Midnight, 7 days a week.


Regent Cafe,
Keen Street 1938

(Courtesy Drew Collection)

The arrival of Pennys on the scene prompted more intense competition and innovations - opening with Breakfast and Dinner ‘Packages’: Pennys Breakfast Special, offering 1 doz new laid eggs and 1lb sugar cured rashers… for 2/3d. Pennys Dinner Special, 1 prime roast beef, 1lb steak, 5lbs potatoes, 2lb onions, 2lb fresh beans, 1 x 30oz tin peaches, 1 carton fresh cream, all for 2/11d…, and a month later Pennys New Dinner Special (1 roast veal or a shoulder mutton + veggies etc for 2/11½d), after the other stores got in on the act. (AGRs Breakfast Special: 1lb Bacon Rashers and 1 doz Fresh Eggs for 1/11d). Pennys responded by introducing the word ‘Fresh’ to Department Store produce: Pennys Fresh Schnapper 7.5d/lb, Fresh Barrier Reef Opened Oysters, Carton Packed, 3doz for 1/6d…, and a month later Pennys Fresh Opened Oysters 6d/doz..., prompting McLeanFresh Cooked Lobsters 1/9d…, Fresh Prawns 7.5d/lb....

With each new proclamation of unbeatable prices from the stores Harry countered with his own specials: Regent Fresh Fried Fillet Fish, 4 slices for 1/-…, Tenterfield Rabbits 7½d each, 1/3d pair..., Seasoned Roast Rabbits 1/- each… Fresh Cooked Crabs 6d, 9d and 1/-…. Fresh Lobsters 2/-…. The Best 3 Course Dinner In Town for 1/6d…. Fish Luncheons and Suppers a Speciality…. Picnic Parties Catered For…. Agents for Peters Ice Cream, 4d buckets and 3d smacks…. Home-Made Brawn 3d/cup…. (Bankrupt George Tsicalas was one of the suppliers of Harry’s Tenterfield rabbits. He and son Spiro, later Harry’s employees, together with a lot of other Tenterfield unemployed, spent weeks at a time trapping the bunnies while living in a tents in the middle of a Tablelands' winter.)

The ‘package’ gimmick, making it difficult to shop around and compare prices, was also employed by the butchers, particularly after ‘Somerville Butchers’ arrived on the scene in mid 1931 with the opening of the two-shop, two-storey Somerville Building on the corner of Carrington and Magellan. (The second shop was occupied by Greenhalgh & Harrison’s Model Fish Shop, retailing the produce of their own Ballina commercial operation, and scaring the hell out of the Greek seafood specialists, Denny Panaretto and Cassimatis & Stathis, who were already contending with the Lismore Fish Markets, a recent upstart in Woodlark. But they parted company within a month or so and Harrison opened the Model Fish Depot down near the Post Office and started providing Harrison’s Famous Shilling Meals and Sixpenny Lunches, with Tea…. Fish and Chips or Ham and Egg, etc, with tea, 1/-, giving all other cafes a fright. He operated from 7AM to sometimes Midnight and also retailed ‘fresh’ fish through to his death in late 1934. The actual location of the shop is a mystery, but it could have been a simple street stall. The original Somerville shop was occupied by Nellie Keys a month after he moved out. She went on to develop one of the most popular ‘niche’ cafes in town.)

Irvine Somerville’s first packages consisted of 6lb sirloin roast and 2lb rump steak for 4/-, or  6lb corn beef, 2lb neck chops and  2lb sausages for 3/- . War, War, War declared Frith Bros Butchers on the corner of Keen and Magellan, offering 12lb corned brisket, 1lb sausages, 1lb frying steak for 4/6d. Fredericks Butchers on the corner of Keen and Conway countered with parcels in 3/-, 4/-, 5/-, 6/- and 10/- lots, the 3/- package consisting of 5lbs shoulder mutton, 2lbs chops, 2lbs steak. Bruce’s Model Butchery in Woodlark offered a package of 8lbs rib roast, 3lbs chuck steak, 3lbs mince for 5/- or 12lbs blade roast, 3lbs pork sausages, 3lbs best chops for 6/6d. Oliver and Best also had a range of 4/-, 5/-, and 6/- lots – the 4/- lot consisting of 6lbs of prime sirloin and 2lb of rump, or ‘4lbs Roast, Tail, Kidney and 2lbs sausages’. And on it went, leaving the punters confused over who was offering the best bargains. The sausages and mince were probably a bit suss – in early 1931 most of these leading butchers advertised that In future no dog’s meat, suet or bones will be given out free, probably meaning that the stuff was diverted into the mincer, and thence the pies and sausages. Later in the year nearly every butcher in town was sprung selling ‘adulterated’ snags, after which most butchers advertised ‘genuine sausages'. Those with the means to dine well saw their fillet steak drop from 1/3d per lb in early 1931 to 1/- 12mths later, while on the other side of the tracks mince went from 4d/lb to 3lbs for 10d. Prices floated up and down over the following years (but sheep brains always remained half the price of ox brains.)

Kritharis Families – 3

Peter Nick Crethary appears to be the last of the pre Depression Kritharis into town when he arrived from Glen Innes in 1929, initially to be involved in the Apollo Café machinations prior to his long-term occupation of the Monterey. It’s not known exactly what happened at the Apollo, but his fellow villager from Karavas, John Modeas, was the main face of the business from late 1929, while Peter appears to be an employee/shift manager, perhaps with a share of the business. Modeas walked away in late 1930 and shortly afterwards Peter leased The Richmond Fruit Mart further down the street next to Bohane’s Bakery, probably the ex-fruit shop of the short-lived venture of Harry and Nick Dimitri Crethar. This was a courageous ‘buying a job’ decision in the face of the overcrowded fruit retailing market, but at this time he had buckleys of getting work on any of the unemployment relief schemes. By early September 1930 there were 377 unemployed registered with the Lismore Labour Exchange, only 66 of whom had been placed in rationed jobs created by the £14,000 worth of unemployment relief grants to Lismore and surrounds during the election largesse. And he would have been last on the list as agitation for first preference to ‘Britishers’ stepped up.

Probably also influencing Peter to abandon the Apollo was the coincidental appearance of the Cadrow’s Health Drink Shop, aka The Drink Parlour, on the other side of the Apollo Hall entrance to the Apollo Café, opened by Hector Cadrow in late 1930. Two light refreshment outlets only a doorway away from each other, albeit attempting to cater to different niche clientele, would have been cut-throat competition. Hector’s house specialty, at least initially, was orange drink made from fresh oranges daily… supplied in ½ and 1 gallon containers for use in the Home and Hospitals… picnic parties, socials, etc, catered for… special concessions to school children…. He later morphed into the Glen Milk Bar.

As for the Apollo, Jacob Charleston gave the place a makeover in Nov30, adding a dumb waiter to the Hall above where his wife did the catering for weddings, parties, etc. A few other mod cons were incorporated and the café upgraded to now offer hot three-course meals, at least for lunch, although his adverts continued to emphasise the light refreshment side of the business – Try our Tutti Fruitis, cool refreshing sundaes…, etc.

Peter and the family, by then including 1mth old baby Nick, moved into a couple of rooms above the mart, while he progressively outfitted the place, installing kitchens and the like, to eventually create the Monterey Café, but in the meantime having to contend with some extraordinary competition amongst the fruiterers (and suffer the indignity of being sued for wages by a waitress in late 1932.)


Glen Innes Wedding 1926
 Peter Nick Crethary and Anna John Coroneo, flanked by Anna's brothers, Peter left and Jim right.
Best Man was Peter Angelo Crithary, first cousin of Peter Nick Crethary.
Anna and her brothers and sisters from Karavas helped ensure that the Karavitikos remained the dominant Kytherian group around the Richmond.

(Courtesy Matina King)

His first competition came from the Italians, Ianna Bros & Bassan, who launched their Fruit Exchange a couple of doors away about a week or so before he opened up, both having to withstand competition from the fruit and veggie department of Frith’s Grocery Store between the two. And all having to combat the competition from Bing Williams operating a fruit stall from Jack Wilson's’ vacant block nearby. The council couldn’t shut Bing down despite resorting to the courts, prompting three other semi-permanent barrows/stalls to join him, each specialising in a different product (fish, drinks, confectionery, etc), but all carrying fruit. Wilson's vacant lot eventually resembled a circus carnival site. They paid a weekly rent to Wilson and nothing to the council in the way of hawker’s license fees or rent like the legal street stands.

Prior to Bing, three stalls operated from the site, but each was wheeled and removed each night. Bing’s stall morphed into a lock-up fruit and soft drink ‘shop’ sitting on stumps, with a wooden roof, walls of fibro, moveable shutters and a fold out counter. He went through the motions of sticking four ‘wheels’ to the stumps with chewing gum after his first tangle with council. His lawyer, the great Advocate Kissane, tied the council in knots over the definition of a building. The councillors eventually got a legal ruling that ‘a fruit stall is a building even if it moves on wheels’, and tried again to evict him through knocking back a development application. But he continued to ignore all ‘pink slips’ stuck to his door and continued to advertise Fruit and Veggies at Depression Prices until it was all resolved in early 1934, when the site was developed and a 2 shop/3 flat building completed, with W. Harris & Co, trading as Direct Fruit Supply, as the first tenant. Bing subsequently opened a fruit shop in Magellan, which he sold to Jack Feros in 1946.

And while all this was going on the Keen Street fruit business gained Pember Bros Fruit Mart in late 1931 and Sargent’s Markets in early 1932. Sargent's move from Woodlark was probably due to their growing wholesale business and the need for greater warehouse space with rear lane access. By this time they were supplying Atkinson’s Markets in Magellan next to the Mecca and the four Mewings Cash and Carry Grocery Stores, as well as their own retail outlet. (Mewings, who pioneered the ‘Cash and Carry’ business in Lismore, had two stores in Woodlark, one in Molesworth and one in South Lismore, and later opened another near the Regent in Keen. The Molesworth store moved around into Magellan opposite the Gundurimba Shire Chambers in 1933 after the Pennys acquisition. And Farrs took over Atkinson’s in early 1934.)

Sargents also had a tie-up with a few of the street stands, both the licensed ones and the illegal operators. One of the illegals, refused a license to operate a fixed fruit barrow stand in late 1932, at a time when the streets around the block were resembling a giant market place and the council started a crackdown, subsequently became a driver for Sargents and was sprung flogging stuff from the back of the truck in Molesworth. (Also sprung in the crackdown was the Chinese market gardener, Hop Lee, who had become a Lismore institution over the years as he hawked his fresh veggies from his horse and cart around the block.)

In 1934 Len Sargent was also caught for operating his vehicle as a goods motor lorry on a journey exceeding 50 miles, in competition with the New South Wales Government Railways, when he was attempting to deliver fruit and veggies to Murbah. A few months earlier Fortunatis Ianna of Ianna Bros & Bassan was similarly sprung delivering to Mullum, where they apparently had a ripening rooms depot, and selling by the roadside on the way back from Brisbane.

The Sargents sourced their stuff from everywhere. An example of a typical load from Brisbane was brought-out in the court case: 20 doz cauliflowers, 20 doz cabbages, 12 bags of peas and 14 bags of beans, picked up from Leslie Morre, a grower of Redland Bay, 40 doz pineapples and 12 cases of paw paws from F. Vanstone of Rochdale, miscellaneous quantities of beetroot, carrots and parsnips from a Chinese grower named Kee and 7 cases of oranges purchased from an unknown bloke, both outside the Brisbane Markets, and 11 cases of gooseberries and 20 cases of apples inside the Markets. The high-turnover perishable fruit business meant a trip to Queensland, the Tablelands, and/or local orchardists every couple of days.

And into the congested Keen fruit scene came ‘The Fruit King’, Paul Coronakes, from Woodlark in 1935. The fruit business remained very competitive and Peter Crethary was relieved to be out of it when he finally made the full transition to the café game.

Other Early Greek Cafes

Theo George Frantzeskakis, another from the Kytherian village of Karavas, arrived in town near the end of WW1 to work for Nick Poulos at the Busy Bee Café in Woodlark, apparently leasing/managing the business after Nick moved down the street to add the Comino shop to his portfolio. He is either the Theo George Francis who had landed in 1910 after 5yrs on and off in South Africa, where he served with the British forces in the Boer War and won a couple of medals, or the Theo George Francis (aka Claude de Glensville) who (re?)landed in 1914, allegedly aged 14, and did a long apprenticeship at Moree. Whatever the case, in early 1920 ‘he’, if not one and the same bloke, surrendered the Busy Bee lease to the partnership of George Poulos and George Patrinos, via the mysterious Mr Williams, and opened the first Greek cafe in South Lismore, establishing The Richmond Palace, on the corner of Union and Casino Streets opposite the pub. This was a posh joint with High Class Refreshment Rooms and Special Soda Fountain, drawing the railway passengers as bonus trade. However, he only seems to have lasted 6mths or so before retreating to Sydney, around the time Arthur George Francis, brother of the latter Francis, arrived in Ballina. Arthur landed in 1911, aged 14, and spent a few years at Glen Innes, Narrabri, Dungog and Cobar (trading as Francisco Bros), until going to Ballina to work for Angelo Crethar around 1920. He seems to have moved to Sydney about the same time Angelo came to Lismore in mid 1923.

[The classy French name ‘de Glensville’ was probably adopted by Theo’s family when they went into exile in Paris with Prime Minister Venizelos in 1920. Venizelos, regarded as Greece's greatest statesman, lost the election of 1920 and, accompanied by friends and political mates, took a breather in Paris during the re-ascendancy of King Constantine and the royalists. Constantine, brother-in-law of Germany's Kaiser, had kept Greece neutral at the start of WW1, leading to some unfortunate circumstances for his compatriots in Australia as the Allied slaughter continued in the Dandenelles campaign. A number of anti-Greek riots saw Greeks and Greek businesses suffering the wrath of Australian soldiers (although in Lismore the destruction of ‘German’ businesses seems to have exhausted the terrorists, leaving no energy left for the Greeks.) Not so lucky was West Maitland where Tony Calopades, later of Casino, had his shop severely damaged in the rioters’ rampage, just after the lucky Leo Frantzeskakis, brother of Theo and Arthur, and his cousins, Theo and Jim Harry Frantzeskakis, trading as Franz Bros, had sold their Maitland outlet.


While Constantine abdicated in 1917 and Venizelos immediately mobilized the Greek army on the side of the Allies, the Australian Government retained its special prohibition on the entry of Greeks to Australia and denied naturalization to those not already pukka Aussies – except for those over 65. In 1920 the royalists again won Government and invited Constantine home from exile, but the disaster of the war with Turkey in 1922 saw the good Con renew his exile. Venizelos temporarily returned to power in 1924, and for a longer period 1928-32, but the failure of the anti-royalist revolt of 1935 saw him permanently back in exile in Paris in 1935. Presumably his supporters like the Frantzeskakis followed the same ups and downs. And presumably the Queensland resident, M. L. Frantzeskakis, a Greek journalist and correspondent for a number of Greek newspapers who began writing pro Allied missives to the Brisbane papers in 1915, was connected.]


Theo George Francis ended up as a grocer in Melbourne, where he died in 1945. His brother David was a cafe proprietor at Shepparton in Victoria when he died in 1935, at which time the only other brother around seems to be Michael of Athens.

The first bloke to wear his heart on his sleeve was Nick Calligeros who, in late 1922, opened the Kythera Café in South Lismore (at 14 Union Street, just over the second bridge from the CBD, if not a typo). But his timing couldn’t have been worse. This was at the start of the Great Barrow Wars, when the Greeks were engulfed in anti-alien sentiment, and he folded about 9mths later. He was an old man of 34 when he landed from the village of Kalokerines in late 1915, one of the last Greeks to be allowed into the country before Australia closed the door. He spent time working in various Greek cafes in Sydney, Warwick, Toowoomba, Pittsworth, Brisbane and Ipswich before deciding to try his luck in Lismore in early 1919, mainly working at the Busy Bee until becoming his own boss.

In mid 1923 he had another go at self-employment in the CBD, opening a fish shop at 72 Keen in partnership with a bloke named Pheeney. He was probably selling cooked fish ‘n’ chips, but his main trade appears to be retailing fresh fish, lobsters and oysters, for which he provided a delivery service, possibly using the taxi service of Hubert Pheeney, who was perhaps a driver for the taxi company of Athena Andrulakis. However, he doesn’t seem to have made a go of it and took over the management of Athena’s Molesworth fish shop in late 1925, moving to Casino a year later and marking time as a cook at the Marble Bar Café until opening his own fishmongers business in Barker Street. But it seems he was beaten by the Depression and subsequently moved to Sydney where he went onto the old age pension sometime after the war. Still a bachelor, he finally returned to Kythera in 1950 to look after an aged sister (or vice versa).

Another early Greek café at an unknown location was run by Con Ladas, a Corinthian who landed in Brisbane from the USA in mid 1910 and made his way to Lismore in about 1920. The nature and circumstances of his café are still shrouded in mystery, but he seems to have become a hawker by the Depression, and is possibly the same bloke simply identified as ‘Costa the Peanut Vendor’ who wandered the block flogging the things from a tray. Post Depression he became ‘a jack of all trades’ and by retirement in the early 1940s was a general dogsbody at the Capitol Café. He died at his home in Bridge Street in 1945, aged 73 or 81.

The mysterious firm of Saros & Pappas established a fish and oyster saloon somewhere in town around 1927, perhaps taking over the Calligeros business (either the Keen enterprise or the Andrulakis Molesworth shop). Pappas remains elusive but Saros was probably Panagiotis Petros Travassaros who landed from the Kytherian village of Travassianika in 1924, aged 23, and came straight to Lismore, perhaps to join his father. He moved to Sydney in mid to late 1928, but around 1931 opened a café at Gloucester. Post war he resettled at Albury. The Pappas half could be Spero Papas/Papaconstantinon who suicided at Maclean in 1932, aged 28, at which time he seemed to have some sort of connection with the business of the wandering Nick Moulos, a fruit dealer based somewhere around the Richmond region who ranged far and wide hawking the stuff from the back of his lorry. Papas is stated to have been born in both Patras and some place named ‘Amonans, Navpauteos’ in 1905 and allegedly landed in 1927, taking up a café partnership in Grafton with John Poulos at some stage. Poulos took over the Karmery Cafe of Themistoklis Kopeleas (Tom Copland) at Maclean in mid 1931 and in late May32 Papas had just joined him, or was about to join him, from Adelong when he threw himself into the Clarence.

It’s a remote possibility that the Saros & Pappas shop was the Apollo Café, which came under the proprietorship of John Stephanos Modeas in 1929. John, born 1902 Kythera, landed with his fellow villagers, Harry Nick Crethar and Jim and Angelo John Coroneo, in mid1914 and linked up with his father, Stephanos John, who apparently had arrived a couple of years earlier. He and his father initially went to Narrabri, where they were both recorded as employees of the Bavea & Fardouly partnership in mid 1916, but sometime post war his father returned home and John thereafter wandered around the countryside working in various Greek cafes, including Dungog, until trying a different career path with the acquisition of a stationery and fancy goods business in the remote town of Bigga around late 1926. Whatever the trading circumstances, he returned to the café game a couple of years later upon taking up stewardship of the Apollo. But this also turned out to be another short-lived venture and a year later he wandered off to Queanbeyan, where he was recorded as a pastry cook in 1932. By the mid 1930s he was working for George Coombes (Koumpis) in the Cameo Cafe at Tenterfield, but he eventually ended up in Sydney, where he died in 1977. (The Apollo allegedly fell into the hands of Peter Nick Crethary for a month or so before he too walked away to establish the Monterey, leaving the keys of the Apollo with Jacob Charleston in ~Oct/Nov30.)

While ‘Dimond, Lambros & Co' took over Menus Crethar’s shop at 17 Woodlark in mid 1931, initially with Peter Bavea as the main face of the business, Anthony Elias Lambros, late of Katoomba, seems to have become the sole principal by at least late 1932. The place, re-launched as The Paragon Café, basically remained a sundae shop/light refreshment outfit in their hands, manufacturing all their own confectionery and pastries with the help of an Expert Pastry Chef with French and Continental Experience.(And 2mths later: The latest French Methods of Electric Cooking. Call in and see it at work… Fresh Sponges 1/3d, Fancy New Biscuits….) In late 1932 Anthony installed the latest plant embodying the latest and most efficient in culinary appartentances... Best outside Sydney… and can now offer cakes, pastry, biscuits and culinary delicacies unexcelled anywhere in the State…. Certificate from Brisbane Royal Show. Anthony was born at a place called Khosma in the State of Khinourias in Greece in 1901 and landed in Sydney in 1927. He went immediately to Katoomba to work for the Comino Bros but 3½yrs later they were burnt out, whereupon he moved onto Lismore, apparently with enough savings to go into partnership with Bavea. But they too seem to have found trading difficult, Bavea walking away from the business within a year or so followed by Lambros in late 1933, leaving Lismore's Orthodox congregation without a Chantor. Peter went to Melbourne and further intrigues while Anthony chose to go the opposite direction, taking up employment with the ex-Mullumbimby identity, George Papas, in Kingaroy.

Northern Star, Monday 17Jul1933.

At this time there were 27 Greek-born males and 3 females in Lismore (and 33m/11f Orthodox adherents), so it looks like many dodged the church service.
In the wider Richmond-Tweed region the congregation totalled 91Greek-born and 107 Orthodox disciples.
Ballina: 2m Greek-born, but no Orthos?
Casino: 8m/2f Greek-born and 9m/4f Ortho
Kyogle: 9m/1f Greek-born and 9m/2f Ortho
Nimbin: 2m Greek-born, but no Orthos?
Woodburn: 3m Greek-born and 2 Orthos?

Mullumbimby: 3m/1f Greek-born, 4m/1f Ortho
Murwillumbah: 21m/1f Greek-born, 17m/2f Ortho
Byron Bay: 5m Greek-born, 4m Ortho
Tweed Heads: 3m Greek-born, 7m Ortho.

NSW: 2341m/590f Greek-born, 2791m/1122f Ortho


Peter Grivas, probably another Ithacan, turned up from Newcastle in the early 1930s and had a café somewhere or other, perhaps the Lambros shop, until re-establishing a Greek presence in the original Meras/Lakis/Comino Woodlark premises in 1935 with The Northern Star Cafe. He seems to have disappeared from the scene by late 1938 and his cafe resurrected by Mrs Vasiliki Carkagis of the Canberra Cafe in Aug39. Vasiliki offloaded both cafes 8mths later to take on the Willow Cafe next the Commercial Hotel on the other side of Woodlark.

Spiro (Sam) Andrew Coroneo (Psomas) converted the Federal Hall (aka The Federalette), down near the Civic Hotel in Molesworth Street, into a cinema in early 1927 (later the 'Vanity Theatre') and likely had the café next door, as all Greek theatre proprietors were wont to do, leaving the theatre in the management hands of Mr S. Hewitt. Sam and his brother Alex had landed in 1907, aged 13 and 10 respectively, and gone to Glen Innes where they were each running a café by 1914, the same year they sold out to Crithary & Poulos and moved to Scone. There they subsequently joined the ranks of the cinema czars, Alex returning to the Tablelands to operate theatres while Sam built a new Strand Theatre at Cessnock in 1925, another Strand at Tamworth in 1928, and in between leasing various halls like the Federal and giving them makeovers. However, he had over-extended himself and was in financial difficulties by 1929, eventually returning to the café game. The aggressive competition from Tom Dorgan, owner of the Star Court and Diggers Theatres, who also opened the Palace/Palais Theatre in South Lismore 6wks after the Federal conversion, didn’t help. By early 1930 Dorgan was also the lessee of the Federal, while the Palais was in the hands of Mr Snowden.

A Greek with an unusual occupation was Alex Horafitis, 25yrs old when he arrived from Leros Island in 1905, who was recorded as a chauffeur for a Syrian Oyster Vendor, possibly Abdullah Skype, in Lismore in 1909.

Another outside the café stereotype was the Kytherian Con Dimitri Blaveris, who seems to have been in the dairy industry somewhere around Lismore for a couple of years from 1909. He was 11yrs old when he landed from the village of Aroniadika in 1898, followed by his father, Dimitri, in 1900, brother Andrew in 1903 and brother John in 1904. Dimitri spent a few years farming in Bundaberg until coming to town in 1909, linking up with Con who came from Sydney and Andrew and John who were already here. They all moved out in ~1911. (Prior to coming to Lismore Con was on the amateur wrestling circuit, often appearing in tournaments with Theo Minucoe of Kyogle, Peter Nick Mazarakis of Lismore and George Anthony Mazarakis of Sydney.



Peter Nick Mazarakis, an employee of Peter Comino, was also a boxer and runner of some renown. He landed from Kythera as a 13yr old in 1899 and came to Lismore in 1908, probably with his father Nick and brother Andrew, and stayed a couple of years, perhaps moving out with the Blaveris. He and Andrew set up shop at Forbes around 1912/13, but just after the war he teamed up with Emmanuel Cassimaty to acquire a large restaurant in Castlereagh St., Sydney. Sometime in the 1920s the pair established or acquired the Pantheon Club further down Castlereagh St. His father returned to Kythera in 1916 with the above Kyriacos Ioannis Bavea to play in WW1.

(Courtesy 'Life in Australia')




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