By Vasilis Vasilas.
Years pass and they bring about changes; people come and they go, and demographics change in an area. But some things thankfully stay the same and the longevity and success of Marrickville’s delicatessen, LAMIA SUPER DELI, emphasises the suburb’s significant Greek legacy.
What an incredible role delicatessens have played in providing ingredients and products for respective European migrant groups in post WW2 Australia; more importantly, they introduced so many products and foods to mainstream Australia which were ultimately accepted into the Australian diet and cuisine. Walking into LAMIA SUPER DELI and you will see Greek customers stocking up on their Greek delicacies but there are always non Greeks in the delicatessen and watching them ask for Greek products just emphasises how multiculturalism has shaped Australia.
Over the many years, owners and locations may have changed, but LAMIA SUPER DELI remains at the heart of Marrickville’s shopping strip. As it has recently passed fifty years of operation, such is the strength of LAMIA’s reputation that it transcends time and trends.
LAMIA delicatessen was initially established by Apostolos and Maria (nee Danas) Haralambis, with Kostas Goulas and he later married Angela, in 1968; the initial premises were a lot closer to the Marrickville and Illawarra Roads’ intersection. Apostolos was inspired to open a delicatessen from his brother-in-law, Dimitris Danas, who was running his own delicatessen on Illawarra Road. With thousands of Greeks living in the area in the late 1960s and having a bus stop in front of it, LAMIA was an instant hit with locals. At the time, the shopping landscape was very different as Marrickville did not have a supermarket yet; so, LAMIA was like a mini supermarket itself, selling everything from washing powder to olives and cheeses.
After Kosta and Angela left the partnership, the Haralambis family continued this successful delicatessen until 1995 when their employee, Harry Cotsinis, took the opportunity to buy the business and he has been running LAMIA SUPER DELI ever since. With the redevelopment of the building, Harry moved the business a little further down Marrickville where another delicatessen used to operate- run by the Parmakellis family.
What has ensured LAMIA’s longevity as a successful business is Harry and his partner Christine’s adaptability to market changes. With so many professionals moving into the area and the subsequent demand for sandwiches and rolls, a sandwich bar was introduced and hot food- such as home-made moussaka and lasagne- was introduced too.
LAMIA’s customers love the shop is that it is like walking into a shop in Greece. The aural waft of Greek music floats throughout the shop; there are Greek products throughout the shop; and Harry and Christine- with staff like Stella- have that welcoming Greek ‘filoxenia’ that embraces everyone. What also reassures customers is the abundance of products on offer; whether it is shelves or the fridges, they are filled with such a variety!
Harry reiterates how Australian attitudes towards Greek food has changed over the years as he points out so many of his customers are non Greeks, and these customers are very open minded and willing to try new foods.
Although Harry believes Christine, with her zest and energy, is the heartbeat of LAMIA SUPER DELI, the shop itself remains the heart of Marrickville’s bustling shopping strip.
Follow Vasili’s Taxidi through Marrickville next Friday online and in print…