The Central Café played an important role in the small country town of Blackall, selling newspapers and books, petrol at the front of the café and mailing newspapers to the graziers and families as well as serving the traditional café offering.
Minas (Mick) Dimitris Logothetis (Logos Bros) and his wife Anna (nee Tsitsilios) met in Greece in 1928, arriving in Blackall in 1929. Mick and his brother Nicholas had arrived in Queensland much earlier working in the cane fields of the Childers district from the mid-1910s to 1920s with other Greek cane cutters.
Life was hard in the café starting the day early in the morning and often working until midnight. When interviewed for Denis Conomos’s research into The Greeks in Queensland: a history from 1859-1945, Anna describes the excessive heat and flies, drought and dying stock, and shearer’s strikes.
“On one occasion when Mina (Mick) and the employee had gone shooting a girl and I were looking after the shop when suddenly we were rushed with shearers. We hadn’t heard that one of the stations was going to stop shearing that day. That afternoon I sold about 180 gallons of petrol while at the same time trying to cook meals for the shearers. When Mina (Mick) returned he was upset. ‘Don’t worry’ I said. ‘We managed’.”
Mina (Mick) and Anna were a part of the community of Blackall best illustrated by another story Anna recounts to Denis Conomos in an interview with her for The Greeks in Queensland: a history from 1859-1945 (2002).
“When the girls finished work at night, we’d sit down with them in the kitchen and have a cup of tea and cake. They wouldn’t want to leave. Sometimes we’d talk until 1am then we’d put them in the back of the utility and take them home. Sometimes shearers would come to the shop and give their money to Mick to look after so that they wouldn’t spend it all on drink.”
Mina and Anna ran the café for 17 years (approx 1946). In that time Anna had only been away from the café and Blackall three times. Once to have the children baptised in Brisbane, to Sandgate for a week so the children could recover from whooping cough and once to Rockhampton for Anna to recover from illness.
In December 1949, a cold-room was installed in the Central Café resulting in five tons of fruit and vegetables arriving by refrigerated truck in excellent condition. The Venardos Bros were attributed with this innovation and the community of Blackall were assured of a continuous supply, but that is another story.
- The Greeks in Queensland: a history from 1859-1945 by Denis Conomos, 2002, pg.304; 480; 482; 510
Exhibition – Meet me at the Paragon
State Library’s latest exhibition, Meet me at the Paragon explores how the creation of American-style cafes enabled Greek migrants of the early to mid-1900s to carve out a new life in a foreign land. The exhibition runs from 27 September 2019 until 15 March 2020.
Anne Scheu – Engagement Officer, State Library of Queensland