Busy Bee Café, Kingaroy

Kytherian born Georgos Gianis Trifilis arrived in Kingaroy in 1914, working for fellow Kytherian Emmanuel Zervos. Emmanuel sold the Royal Café to Georgos (George) and in the decade that followed, George opened the Busy Bee Café remaining in that café for nearly forty years. The café is still trading today.

Interior of the Busy Bee Cafe in Haly Street, Kingaroy, Queensland, 2nd January 1929. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg Neg 105119.

George (Georgos), brother Peter and their cousin Emmanual Fardoulys befriended Greek brothers George and Tony Maniatis, who ran a café in Nanango, 26kms in a southerly direction along the South Burnett highway. They would help each other at events such as the local agricultural shows which were very popular social events in both communities.

Denis Conomos in his publication, The Greeks in Queensland: a history from 1859-1945 refers to another important association helping to expand the Trifilis business in Kingaroy. With instruction given by Manolis Panaretos, George and Emmanuel began making confectionary, using methods learned by Panaretos in America.

“They were also making syrups (strawberry, passion fruit and sarsaparilla) for sundaes … giving them exotic names such as the South Burnett Beauty, the Royal Beauty and the American Beauty.” They were considered a popular treat.

Streetscape of Kingaroy showing the Busy Bee Café. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 199662

It is also understood the brothers brought a different kind of culture to the people of Kingaroy. Families on a Sunday while strolling down Haly Street would experience the sounds of Caruso singing Italian opera and other classical music being played on the gramophone in the café.

In her blog article, Being busy at State Library, 2016 Queensland Business Leaders Hall of Fame Fellow Toni Risson, describes some of the features clearly visible on the storefront of the Busy Bee Café, including the subtle change in George’s name to Trefilly.


The Greeks in Queensland: a history from 1859-1945 by Denis Conomos, 2002, pg.134; 292; 313

Exhibition – Meet me at the Paragon

State Library’s latest exhibition, Meet me at the Paragon explores how the creation of American-style cafes enabled Greek migrants of the early to mid-1900s to carve out a new life in a foreign land. The exhibition runs from 27 September 2019 until 15 March 2020.

Anne Scheu – Engagement Officer, State Library of Queensland


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