submitted by Peter Tsicalas on 19.02.2004
The Hunter Region
Seventeen year old Mick Emmanuel Potiri led the Catering Corps into Cessnock in 1908 after a brief cadetship with his brother George on the Tablelands. Four and a half years later he passed command to Arthur Emmanuel Venardos and took a detachment to Queanbeyan where he established a new base for the bargain price of £600. His subordinate and shipmate, Peter Emmanuel Condoleon of Avlemonas, the brother-in-law of Mick’s first cousin, Andy Damianos Andronicus of Walcha, followed him a few months later, as did his brother, Peter Potiri, from Walcha.
Arthur Venardos arrived from Karavas with his two sons in 1911 and probably came here from Sydney, although one son, 11yr old Peter (Bernard), decided to do his training in Allora and Esk prior to joining the Cessnock contingent in 1915. Four years later he was given his own command at Katoomba, where he remained for another 12yrs until transferred to Grafton.
Around the same time the Vlachakis Bros brought a rival team to town and remained through to the mid 1920s when they sold out to their employee, Peter Petros Marselos. Seventeen year old Peter had found Cessnock in 1915 and, unlike a lot of his wandering compatriots, decided to settle early, remaining through until at least the mid 1930s before moving on.
From the early 1930s the Gerakiteys Bros became long-standing proprietors. Kyriacos (King) Peter Gerakiteys was 17yrs old when he left Aroniadika in 1914 and a few years later acquired the Souris Bros White Rose Café at Orange. He brought the White Rose name with him when he came to Cessnock to set up shop with his brother Emmanuel, an early post war arrival who joined him from Manilla. In the early 1940s the White Rose brand name was further extended into West Maitland, where another post war Gerakiteys brother, Arthur, had established the large Paragon Café in 1938.
Cessnock was one of the hardest hit towns in NSW during the Great Depression, recording an unemployment rate of 33.4% in 1933, compounded by lack of moneyed customers from the surrounding Kearsley Shire (35.4%) and next door Lake Macquarie Shire (37.1%). Overall, Northern NSW was way below the State average (21.7%), with the Richmond-Tweed residents enjoying a relatively benign 9% and wondering who put the Great in Great Depression (although isolated pockets like Ballina at 23.1% beg to differ.) As with the current good times, the Depression’s bad times were spotty, mainly manifest in Sydney and those provincial centres with a concentration of manufacturing and mining industries.
Cessnock became a little unsafe when hundreds of unemployed miners began rioting and threatened to help themselves to the produce of local shops, presumably including the cafes. One nifty solution was the creation of a work relief scheme 400 miles away at remote Burringbar, near Murwillumbah, where 300 of them remained out of the way for a number of years wielding picks and shovels reforming the highway over the range.
George Michael Cassimaty, 21yrs old when he arrived from Frilingianika in 1908, rode into town around mid 1909 to establish the first identifiable Kytherian presence. Hot on his heels were his brothers, Jack and Spiro, and Emmanuel Dimitri Notaras. They all moved out together around 1912; the Cassimatis to establish at Taree and Notaras to join his cousins at Grafton.
The license to drive the fruit barrows was handed on to the Crithary Bros, whose identity is a bit of a mystery. Harry Nick Crethar, who landed as a 17yr old in 1914, came directly to Dungog to work for someone or other. Two years later he moved to Sydney and post war went to join his cousins, Angelo and Minas Victor Crethar, at Ballina. Another temporary Crethar may have been Spyro Theo Kritharis, who stuck his head in around 1915/16 on his way to Sydney after selling up at Murrurundi.
Post war the Crithary Bros were probably Victor and Arthur of Stroud, but in the early 1920s they seem to have surrendered Dungog to the Kastellorizans. The Barboutis family turned up from Mudgee in about 1922/23 and never left the place.
Forster is still on the backburner, but there appear to be no Kytherians through to at least the 1920s. George Emmanuel Zaunders and a bloke named A. Comino, followed later by Charlie Comino, turned up in the late 1930s. George, 13yrs old when he landed in 1913, had joined his brothers on the Darling Downs prior to settling at Taree in 1920.
Those omnipresent Comino Bros staked someone or other to a café here around 1911 or earlier, although a non-Kytherian named Roussos came to town that same year with a stake from Minas Damianos Andronicus and possibly traded as Comino Bros. Just before the war he handed the oyster knife to his employee, Steve Matis, (Stavros Pol Mavromatis of Petrouni), who seems to have taken R & R on Kythera in 1926 after 15 long years at Gloucester.
Early transients included Victor Crithary of Stroud, who spent about 6mths here pre war, Jack and Tony Zantiotis of Weston, who each spent about 12mths here at different times during the war, Minas George Cassimatis, later of Temora, who also passed through during the war, and Dimitri K. Theodorakakis (Kedis?), who spent short periods hawking in a number of local towns and was here for a year just after the war (and sponsored Steve Matis back in 1928.)
Not so transient was Harry Emmanuel Souris who came to town upon landing in 1922, at the ripe old age of 30, and lasted 8yrs before hearing the siren call of Queen Banana. George Zacharia Souris, who also heard the call, was here for 9mths prior to his Aberdeen spell.
Spyro Peter Vlandis of Kalokerines took the baton from Harry Souris in 1930 and ran with it for about 10yrs to win 3rd prize as the longest Kytherian stayer. (At this stage 2nd place belongs to Peter Petros Travassaros (Saros) who turned up ~1935, after adventures in Lismore and other places, and lasted for 11yrs before settling in Albury.)
It’s believed George Emmanuel Phacheas began his love affair with K. Kurri in 1896 when he hung out a shingle as a painter and decorator. How long he’d been in Oz is still uncertain, but his younger brother Peter landed in 1889 and George wouldn’t have been far in front or behind. In 1901 they went back to Greece for a holiday, both returning to Fremantle later the same year with their brother John and 13yr old nephew Alexander Spiro. But while George immediately came back to his familiar stamping grounds, spending a year at West Maitland prior to resuming his affair with Kurri K, the others procrastinated in WA. In 1903 he again went to Smyrna, where he won the hand of Sofia Defteron, returning to his old trade in 1904, but about 2yrs later was initiated into the ancient guild of fishmongers when he acquired the oyster saloon of a character named Constantine.
He and Sofia battered fish through to 1919/20 when they passed on the recipes and retired to Redfern, where George died in 1942 aged 87.
Minas (Mick) Damianos Andronicus of the coffee dynasty looks to be the first Kytherian colonizer when he came down from Tamworth in 1901 to acquire the ex-oyster saloon of the Paraskos Bros of Woolgoolga. He allegedly had landed pre 1900 and joined his brothers Nick and Andy at Tamworth after they had been staked to a café by the ubiquitous Comino Bros.
Comino Bros, maybe the sons of Anthony Dimitri Comino (Skordili), also staked Mick into the Maitland shop. In mid 1903 he was joined by his 17yr old brother Charles and 3yrs later by 19yr old brother Emmanuel, who had elected to do his trade training at Tamworth and Walcha after landing in late 1903. Charles moved off to Tamworth in 1907, but around late 1908 again linked up with Emmanuel for a sortie into Sydney, from where the Andronicus brand name rapidly grew to prominence. Mick continued to trade as Comino Bros until joining them in Sydney in about 1910. His youngest brother, John, who allegedly had come to him in West Maitland as a 13 year old at some stage, then went off to Tamworth to join Nick.
By this time rival restaurateurs had opened outlets. The first were Georgios and Efstratios Kalopaidis, who allegedly opened their cafe in 1901, but their nephews, Tony Emmanuel Calopades, who was 11yrs old when he landed from Lianianika in 1896, and his brother George Emmanuel jnr, who followed in 1903, were the first clearly identifiable Kalopadis in town when they acquired the Andronicus café/s.
The next competition is believed to have come from Peter Emmanuel Phacheas/Fatseas, the brother of George of Kurri Kurri, sometime around 1902/03. But he left shortly afterwards, moving over the border to Gatton pre war, and subsequently to Brewarrina and Dubbo, before returning to cross the Styx in 1934. The Franz Bros, (Frantzeskakis of Karavas), also opened a shop on High Street in 1913, but they too had disappeared by the early war years. By this time patriotic fervour was touching 7 on the Richter Scale and in 1916 the Calopadis restaurant, by then apparently the only Greek noshery left in town, was trashed in anti Greek earthquakes. They complained that such a reaction to their cooking was a little over-the-top.
George Calopadis, the son of Emmanuel and Stamatia, nee Conomou, worked on his recipes and had achieved a 5 star Michelin Rating by 1922/23 when he sold out to his employee, Tony Nick Conomos, and moved to Wauchope. Eighteen year old Tony, another exception to the walkabout rule, had come straight to Maitland upon landing in 1911, remaining until about 1927 when he sold up to see the rest of Australia, first stop Bourke. At the same time his brother Charles, who had joined him as a 13yr old in 1923, chose Walgett. Tony had continued to trade as Comino Bros, a trade name still being passed down in Maitland into the 1950s. An earlier, but elusive, Conomos, was 14yr old Mick David who came to Maitland off the boat in 1906 and remained for 5 to 7yrs, trying his hand at running his own café for a year or so around 1910, but eventually deciding that catching fish at Port Macquarie was more fun than cooking the things.
Other Conomo’s included Dimitri Andreas who spent a year here around 1905 and eventually put down roots at Wee Waa, and Nick Tzanitos who spent a couple of years here from 1925 and subsequently settled at Dorrigo.
On April Fools’ Day 1909 the Aroni Bros horses took a clean sweep in the main event at the Maitland show - ‘Sunlight’ first, ‘Fairlight’ second, and ‘Sunshine’ tied for third. In the high jump their horse ‘Mahonga’ tied for second with a height of 5’11”. These blokes, based at Moree, allegedly had 11 champion hay burners, one of whom won the £7000 Newcastle Cup in 1914. Beats the hell out of shucking oysters for a couple of quid a week.
Seventeen year old John Moulos, son of the Rev Apostolos of Kousounari, landed in 1907 and after 3yrs on probation at Emmaville and Muswellbrook barricaded himself in Singleton for many years. He traded as Moulos & Louranto for a year or so until joined by younger brother George from Kempsey, after which Moulos Bros continued to out-fox competitors by acquiring two cafes, the Astoria and Niagara, and later the picture theatre.
John died in 1958 but the Moulos association with Singleton continued through his daughter Matina and son-in-law, Peter Comino of Guyra, who ran the Niagara for a number of years. (John married Kanella Crithary, sister of the Glen Innes Critharys, in 1921 in a dual ceremony with Maria Crithary and Jim George Tzortopoulos.)
Another John Paul Moulos, 19yrs old when he landed in 1921, came direct to Singleton and remained for 6yrs until settling at Grafton.
The Crethars of Karavas seem to have claimed this place as their own. Nineteen year old Vretos B. Kritharis was the first in the chain when he turned up from Glen Innes to open a café with a stake from the all-pervasive Comino Bros in 1913, a year after sailing into Sydney. He was initially in partnership with Con Kanelis, who possibly was connected to the Critharys of Glen Innes, but was the sole proprietor by the time he was joined by 17yr old Arthur Crithary in 1915.
They seem to have moved off to Dungog sometime during or after the war, apparently leaving no Greek presence in the place until the Theodoropoulos (Theodore) Bros of Acrata filled the power vacuum in the early 1920s.
Coroneo Bros acquired the café of Mena and Kaliopi Casos, the parents of Dean who served in two world wars, in 1912/13. They are probably Angelo, Nick and Wasisname, who landed with their widowed father Peter Coroneo in 1901 after many years in Smyrna and initially followed their father around Moree, Inverell, Goondiwindi and Merriwa until branching out on their own.
They went their separate ways around 1914/15, leaving Anastasios Sougiannis to rearrange the furniture until the Zantiotis brothers, trading as Peters & Co, turned up a couple of years later to complete the remodelling.
Peter Steve Zantiotis seems to have been the first brother into the place following 12mths conditioning in Armidale and Uralla, but called for help from Tony at Glen Innes and Jack from Gloucester around early 1917. They had landed in 1911, although Jack snuck off to the Balkan games 18mths later and had to be escorted back in 1914 by 16yr old Peter (suffering the dreaded pains-in-the-chest, which turned out to be nothing more than a bullet in the torso that he had gold plated and wore as a good luck charm thereafter.)
Jack moved on to Sydney in the mid1920s, later resettling in Mittagong, while Tony and Peter allegedly remained in partnership into the 1930s until Peter took himself off to Dapto. Tony eventually retired to Sydney. Their brothers, Ernie and George, arrived post WW1 and subsequently settled at Casino, while their cousins, Jim and Andrew Anastasios Zantiotis, who landed pre WW1, also spent a fair period here before settling at Gunnedah. (And the mysterious Sid Zainty trading as Zanty Bros down the track at Wyong through WW1, possibly Sarantos George Zantiotis, is a likely rellie.)
submitted by Todd Marselos on 28.12.2011
Great article very pleased to have been able to read about my grand father Peter Marselos,the only thing i would like to add was Peter remained in Cessnock and our some of our family are still there today.
submitted by Barbara Zantiotis on 30.05.2016
Very informative! Regarding Weston, my grandfather Peter Zantiotis dissolved the partnership with his brothers, Jack and Tony in 1922. By 1930, my grandparents had moved to Dapto as my Uncle Arthur was born there in 1930.
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