Paris Café, Clermont

John Dimitrious Faros and his wife Marouli ran the Paris Café in Clermont. The interior had glass fronted counters and a refrigerator cabinet at the front, with tables and chairs in a dining area towards the back. A fire in the nearby Central Hotel destroyed the cafe in 1948. It was rebuilt in brick in 1949.

Staff behind counter of Paris Cafe, Clermont, ca. 1940. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 41531

In the mid-1920s, The Capricornian newspaper refers to a Mr P. Matones (Matonez) as being one of the first owners of the café in Clermont. John (Jack) and Marouli (Monty) Faros took over the Café in the 1930s. It operated until 1992.

The Paris Café was a hub for local events in Clermont, hosting tennis and football club meetings in the early 1940s.

Interior of the Paris Cafe in Clermont, 1940s. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 41530

On June 24, 1948, a fire which started in the Central Hotel destroyed several businesses in the vicinity, including the Paris Café, Bennett's drapery shop, Miss Rose Harris' saddlery shop and Guv's boot shop, the first major fire to affect the business centre of the township in its 90 year history.

“Heroic efforts by willing helpers kept the fire from the Paris Cafe for some time while the contents, including two commercial refrigerators, were removed to the street. Workers demolished the wooden rear portion, preventing the fire spreading to living quarters close to the rear of the café”.  Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld.: 1878 - 1954) Fri 25 Jun 1948, Pg 4

Many of the major newspapers of the time reported on the event which caused £30,000 of damage.

A month later in mid-July, the Morning Bulletin in Rockhampton reported “Following the inspections by the insurance company assessors, the owners of the premises destroyed had commenced the clean-up.  A temporary bar was opened on the Central Hotel site while the Paris Cafe re-opened in the adjoining building - North and Coy's old store, which was responsible for halting the spread of the fire”.

By March 1949, a newspaper advertisement published in Rockhampton's Morning Bulletin invited builders to tender to construct a brick shop in Clermont. Plans and specifications could be obtained from the Paris Café in Clermont or from the undersigned LANGE L. POWELL, DODS & THORPE, Architects, National Bank of Australasia Chambers, 180 Queen Street, Brisbane.

Denis Conomos in The Greeks in Queensland: a history from 1859-1945 (2002) mentions that earlier owner of the Paris Café, Kytherian Peter Matones owned two cafes in Longreach attached to picture theatres in the 1920s. They were later sold to Angelo Magaloconomos.

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

Sources

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