By Vasilios Vasilas
One interesting aspect about shops and businesses is the way they become associated with a suburb; as soon as you say their name to people, they know exactly where they are located. It feels as though these shops and businesses have been there all the time; it does not matter if they may have moved to different locations and built new premises, they continue to be synonymous with their locality.
It was late 2017 when I interviewed Dimos Scoullis of Hellenic Patisserie and Gelato Bar, one of the ‘institutions’ of Marrickville, or as so many people fondly remember it as ‘Hellenic Bakery’.
Dimos migrated to Australia in 1965; although he was meant to begin ‘pick and shovel’ work at the Sydney Waterboard on Monday, he worked (during the weekend) in the takeaway shop under the Cecil Hotel, Cronulla…. peeling potatoes! This was Dimos’ first experiences of work in Australia!
A couple of years later, he married Vasiliki (nee: Konstantopoulos) and they eventually settled in Carlton.
It was Dimos’ brother, Giorgos, and his cousin, Yannis (Hatzikyriakou) who initially wanted to buy thr Artos Bakery off Peter Zefkilis, which was situated towards the crossroads of Illawarra and Marrickville Roads. As Yannis was tied up with the Corinthian Rotisserie, Giorgos asked Dimos to go into partnership (1977). There is a great story of how the bakers’ strike in January 1978 kickstarted their business and they did not look back after this.
With business booming, Dimos’ brother-in-law, Tasos Kotsogiorgis, came to work with Dimos and Giorgos. In 1981, the brothers bought another shop in Rockdale and transformed it into a bakery. Giorgos and Tasos ended up working in the new Rockdale bakery, while Dimos stayed in the Marrickville shop.
The early 1990s was a turning point for the business; with the lease ending, an opportunity arose for Dimos and Giorgos to part ways and Dimos daringly bought the property the business stands on today- the house was demolished and Hellenic Bakery re- opened there in 1992. In the early 2000s, the business continued to expand with the opening of the Glasshouse Cafe.
Times, people’s tastes and demographics change. These days, the bakery section of the business has decreased and morphed into a bustling patisserie and gelato bar (which also explains the business’ name change in 2016). With Dimos’ sons, Diamandis and Giorgos, this iconic business will continue to grow!
What I love about Hellenic Patisserie and Gelato Bar is the way it nurtured the tastes of Marrickville’s Greeks over the years; positioned near the railways station, thousands of locals come out of the station and will drop into the shop on their way home- where they will pick up something Greek to take home to eat. They have played a huge role in transitioning Greek food into the Australian cuisine.
Asked what Marrickville means to him, Dimos states, ‘For so many decades, I only saw Carlton, where we live, at nights because I was always working in Marrickville. If you look at Marrickville that way, I spent more time there than at my home in Carlton. Marrickville is like my home.’
Follow ‘Vasili’s Taxidi’ next Friday on The Greek Herald website and print newspaper…