Maria Vouyioukas’ fish and chip shop still going strong in remote Queensland after 45 years

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Walking into Five Ways Fish Bar in the remote Queensland town of Ayr instantly takes you back to the good old days of Greek fish and chip shops.

That’s because the owners, Maria and George Vouyioukas, have proudly preserved all the iconic fixtures and cooking techniques they’ve been using at the shop since it opened in 1978.

“We still fillet our fish. We clean the calamari. We clean the prawns. We still have the normal till. I don’t have a computer. We don’t even have online deliveries, there’s no place for that,” Maria tells The Greek Herald exclusively.

“I’m still the old-fashioned fish shop. Up till five years ago we were still cutting our own chips.”

From hate to success:

The petrol station where the fish and chip shop is now housed.

Maria’s journey to owning Five Ways Fish Bar all began in 1965 when her family first migrated from Greece to North Queensland, where her father worked as a cane cutter and her mother picked vegetables.

Maria says her parents didn’t want her to go to university so “they thought it was a good idea if I had my own business and they chose to put me in a fish and chip shop.”

“My parents didn’t know very much English so of course, I was out the front and my parents did the cutting of the fish and the chips and the cooking and I was the business person,” Maria explains.

“But to be honest with you, I hated the fish shop. I cried from the first week they put me into it but my parents put all the money into it and you know, back then you just did what you had to do.”

Maria Vouyioukas at Five Ways Fish Bar.

Eventually, Maria was set up with and later married her husband, George, who turned out to be a cook. Maria’s parents stopped working at the fish and chip shop and George helped out instead.

“We’ve been here ever since,” Maria says with a charismatic laugh. “Even my two children grew up in the fish shop.”

Staying open for business in North Queensland:

After 45 years, Five Ways Fish Bar is now the only Greek-owned fish and chip shop in Ayr.

This is a fact Maria is especially proud of as she’s not only witnessed three generations of people pass through her doors, but she’s also managed to beat the constant challenges which face small businesses in remote areas.

What the fish and chip shop looks like now after 44 years.

“It’s a job where you can’t find a lot of people. When I get very busy because staff is very limited here, my children come and help,” Maria says.

“There’s also been a big change in the people. When we first opened, people would ring up in the morning and put their order in for 6pm, but now they ring up at 6pm and want it straight away.

“We’re lucky though that we’re still a small town. We still have that one-on-one contact.”

In saying this, we just had to ask what’s next for Maria and George and their trusty fish and chip shop.

Maria says they plan to keep it open for a few more years before retiring and taking on more volunteer work.

“I still don’t like it. I can’t say it’s my love,” Maria concludes with her typical frankness.

“But obviously I’m a responsible person and I will not do half jobs. I’ve taken on this responsibility and now I’m more determined to see it to the end.”

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