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submitted by Peter Tsicalas on 02.09.2005

Café Culture Exhibition Murwillumbah

Café Culture Exhibition Murwillumbah
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L to R
Mrs Helen Theo Comino (nee Comino)
Theo Steve Patrick
Mrs Kathy Theo Patrick (nee Comino)
Mrs Stella Theo Castrisos (nee Comino)
Mrs Immy McKiernan

Helen and Kathy are the daughters of Peter Angelo Comino (Psilos) of Manilla and Temora.
Helen married Theo Peter Comino (Douris), the brother of Steve and Jack Comino of the Tweed Fruit Exchange, Murwillumbah.
Stella, the daughter of Arthur Stavrianos Comino (Douris), is the first cousin of Steve and Jack.
Theo, who married Helen’s sister Kathy, is the son of Steve Minas Patrick of the Bellevue Cafe Tweed Heads. Their daughter married Stella's son, George Castrisos.
And the photographer is connected through a great aunt, Irene Tsicalas, who married Nick Stavrianos Comino (Douris), the brother of Arthur and Peter.
(There’s a free hamburger at the Psaltis café, Mullumbimby, for anyone who can find an unconnected Kytherian.)

And hats off to Immy McKiernan who has worked 25hrs a day, 8 days a week, for the last few months putting the exhibition together. She has managed to track down some rare stuff, including embossed crockery from Mark Cassimatis’s Civic Café and Con Vlismas’s Austral Café, both at Murbah.
The café counter mock-up is the real thing, salvaged from the Austral Café during renovations carried out by Immy over her period as proprietor.

The exhibition is a must see. It’s at the ‘City of the Arts Space’ (the old Art Gallery), Tumbulgum Road, Murwillumbah, and runs till 14Oct2005.

[Steve and Jack Comino relieved Nick Anthony Koukoulis (aka Coocooles and Nichles) in 1939, but in 1943 when they went into partnership with the Varela Bros the café part of the business was relegated to a sideline as they developed the fruit and veggie side of the enterprise, which included a carrier business supplying shops all over the place. By the time they sold out to the Varelas in 1951 the Tweed Fruit Exchange was Murbah’s largest fruit shop, and remains so in the hands of the Pouloudis Bros.

Nick Koukoulis also features at Tweed Heads, where he acquired the Patrick Bros Bellevue Café in early 1921, leaving Steve and Con Patrick as managers or partners while he proceeded to buy up the whole monopoly board.
Immy found a 1924 advert that shows him owning the Bellevue Café at Murbah, the Bellevue at Tweed Heads, the Bellevue at Roma, the Victoria in South Brisbane and the Aktaiton at Redcliffe. (There’s another free hamburger for anyone who can figure out what Aktaiton means and what marketing strategy he had in mind in naming a café as such.)
Around late 1924 he added the Capitol Café in Coolangatta to the portfolio and a year or so later is believed to have established or acquired the Classic Milk Bar at Goulburn. He took up full time residence at Murbah in 1932 and subsequently owned 3 cafes in town; the Capitol Café, the American Store and The Regent Café. But by the time he sold out to Steve and Jack Comino in 1939 he seems to have consolidated with the Continental Café.]

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