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Karathanasopoulos Brothers, Greek Migrants, 1920s

Trunk - Wood, Greek Immigrants

Image: Trunk - Wood, Greek Immigrants

Source: Museum Victoria

George (born 1905) and Nick (born 1893) Karathanasopoulos were born in Patras, Greece. Around 1923 Nick migrated to Melbourne and George followed in 1928. It is possible their two sisters also immigrated at some point. Upon their arrival in Australia the brothers shortened their name to Karras.

Nick returned to Greece during the interwar period, bringing his wife Alexandra and young daughter Sia (Anastacia), aged five, with him on his return in 1943. Nick then opened two fish and chip shops, one in City Road, South Melbourne, in 1948, and the other in Armstrong Street, Middle Park, in 1955. He passed away in 1973.

George had been a shoe repairer in Greece, and had migrated to Australia in search of better job opportunities. Unfortunately he arrived at the beginning of the Depression, so had to continue working as a shoe repairer. George married Irene (Rene) Divoli (born in 1905), who had immigrated to Melbourne with her family from Sikinos, Greece around 1915. It appears that the couple met in St Kilda, where Rene's brother and sister lived, through family networks.

George settled in St Kilda and established the Pavilion Tea Rooms (now the Stokehouse Restaurant) on the St. Kilda foreshore. Rene also worked in the tea rooms serving tea, coffee, cake, sandwiches. In 1950 George sold the tea rooms and opened a milk bar in Acland Street. He also became very involved in the Greek Community of Victoria at this time. George then purchased the Kenya Coffee Lounge in Little Bourke Street, which he owned and operated from the late 1950s until the late 1960s.

They had a cook and served light lunches (George's daughter Netta recalls Irish stew and pea soup). The business was destroyed by fire but they managed to rebuild. Rene worked in the coffee lounge and Netta wrote the specials menu. The couple then bought a delicatessen in North Road Ormond in the late 1960s.

They returned to Greece in 1971, where Rene died. George then returned to Melbourne and sold the business. In 1988 George visited Greece with his daughter Netta and her husband, to find that there was little of his family remaining in Patras. In 1990 George was presented with medals which recognised his contribution to the Victorian Greek Community. He passed away in 1996.

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