Effy Alexakis and Leonard Janiszewski’s book, Greek Cafes & Milk Bars of Australia, is a trip down memory lane.
The authors have travelled around Australia and overseas to photograph so many Greek cafes and milk bars and interview their owners (or family members who grew up working in their family-owned stores). It’s surprising to find so many originally established in Australian country towns, following Australia’s train tracks as they reach out from coastal cities. The stories behind each family are wonderfully evocative. Speaking of fathers, uncles and grandparents emigrating from Greece to Australia on one way tickets, to work long hard hours setting up cafes and milk bars. Most of the photographs are in black and white, originals where available, alongside colour photos of the present day premises.
One forgets how much the milk bar culture owed to the post WWII American influence, offering milk shakes and sundaes, Peters ice cream and coffee (both instant and expresso). Savvy owners stayed open late on Saturday nights, adjacent to movie theatres to catch the pre- and post- movie attendees seeking coffee or just a comfortable place to continue a Saturday night date with a new beau.
It’s a beautifully produced book and well worth borrowing, to leaf through the pages at leisure. It’s 256 pages in length, a paperback version and easy to lie flat to better study the wonderful photos.