Effy Alekakis

Book - Greek Cafes and Milk Bars of Australia by Effy Alexakis and Leonard Janiszewski


Greek Cafes and Milk Bars of Australia by Effy Alexakis and Leonard Janiszewski

In the Australia of yesteryears, etched in the memories of every suburb and county towns, stood the iconic Greek cafés and milk bars—a beacon of hospitality, operating tirelessly, seven days a week.

Who could forget the names that resonated with nostalgia: the Niagara, the Parthenon, the California, the Astoria, and the Paragon?

They were not merely the home of milkshakes, sweets, ice creams, and hearty meals; they provided an experience.

With their Modernist architecture, adorned with American novelties and bathed in colorful lights, these cafés bestowed upon us an ambiance that exuded a touch of glamour, occasionally reminiscent of Hollywood—a respite from the mundanity of everyday life.

As the golden era gradually waned, Effy Alexakis & Leonard Janiszewski embarked on a mission armed with their cameras, tape recorders, and pens, delving into the recesses of this fading world.


They immortalised not just the facades and interiors but the faces and tales, capturing the essence and ethos that shaped one of the most enduring expressions of our popular culture. Their endeavor serves as a poignant reminder of an era when every sip of soda and every spoonful of ice cream was imbued with the spirit of community and conviviality, now enshrined in the annals of collective memory.


This beautifully designed book presents Australia’s Greek cafés and milk bars as a global phenomenon in the modern era.

Food-catering enterprises run by Greek migrant/settlers successfully married Hellenic and cross-cultural influences with local needs. Greek-run cafés and milk bars populated Australian country towns and cities, merging local fare with new American food-catering ideas.

Prior to the explosion of American fast-food franchises, Greek cafés contributed to a major change in Australian eating habits. While a traditional mixed grill remained a favourite, Greek cafés were known for their introduction of American sodas, ice-cream sundaes, milkshakes, hamburgers, milk chocolate and hard sugar candies, into communities right across Australia.

Alexakis’ stunning photographs capture the decor of the cafés, their customers and the owners who worked hard to make their businesses successful. In harmony with Janiszewski’s text and oral history interviews, the era of Australia’s Greek cafés and milk bars is vividly brought to life.

Research undertaken throughout Australia and internationally highlights these catering enterprises as a ‘Trojan Horse’ for the Americanisation of Australian popular culture – not only affecting public eating habits, commercial food-catering ideas and technology, but also cinema, music and architecture. Throughout most of the twentieth century, Australia’s Greek cafés and milk bars were powerhouses generating unprecedented social and cultural change.

This definitive national publication brings together over 30 years of research culled from travels within four continents, selected from over 1,800 interviews and innumerable contemporary and historical photographs. Hundreds of Australia’s Greek cafés and milk bars are referenced within the book’s 256 pages.

The publication is a companion to the highly-popular and critically applauded touring exhibition Selling an American Dream: Australia’s Greek Café.


A must for your collection. Shop the other amazing titles by Effy Alexakis here 

Soft Cover with flaps

256 pages

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