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Today, Queenslanders love Greek food and culture. However, Meet me at the Paragon explores an untold past. In fact, the American-style cafés and milk bars your parents probably frequented as a child — the ones that served banana splits, fish ‘n’ chips, ice cream sundaes and homemade sweets - were likely owned by Greek migrants.
Imagine the tastes, experience the atmosphere and retrace the history of Queensland’s Greek cafes by learning the past and present true stories of the families that ran them in this fascinating exhibition.
Do you have a story you’d like to share with us about Greek cafes?
Email us your experiences, photos or memorabilia to potentially be featured in our collection.
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Greek migrants first opened shops in Queensland over 100 years ago. From the oyster saloons of Longreach to the milk bars of Bundaberg, Greek cafés traded in most towns and regions across Queensland throughout the 20th century.
Whether it was a big breakfast before work, lollies for the kids or a banana sundae as a special treat, everyone was welcome at the local Greek café.
About Meet me at the Paragon
Meet me at the Paragon co-curator Toni Risson provides an overview of the exhibition.
Aphrodite in Aprons
Helen Kentos and Goldie Lathouras talk about their working lives during the 40s, 50s and 60s.
Growing up behind bars
Victor Patty and Jimmy Samios share their memories about growing up as ‘Greek cafes kids’ in Warwick and Brisbane.
Women in Greek Cafes panel discussion, 10 March 2020, State Library of Queensland
Women in Greek Cafes panel
In recognition of International Women's Day on 8 March, Dr Toni Risson, co-curator of Meet Me At the Paragon exhibition invited Beulah Castan, Helen Kentos and Julie Nichols to share their experiences about life in a Greek cafe.
Naming a café was a big deal for Greek proprietors. Many aligned themselves with their new homeland choosing names that said, “We’re Aussies.”
The Palms Café, established in 1951 by Jerry Palmos, was located in Brisbane’s CBD at 171 Queen Street, next to the Regent Theatre.
While thousands of Greeks worked behind café counters, Peter Samios came to Australia in 1922 and established a business supplying cafés.
From Barcaldine to Kingaroy, Bundaberg to Cairns, Townsville to Redcliffe and Roma to Quilpie, explore the ‘menus’ of Greek cafés across Queensland.
Ready to meet at the Greeks? Visit the exhibition at State Library today to see it all.