Monthly Archives: March, 2012

The Hartee’s Saga, Part I – Earlwood, NSW

Australia’s experiences with American-style fast food started during the Second World War. Visiting American GIs helped the relatively young nation get a taste for hamburgers with cheese and fried chicken, while the influx of immigrants to the country introduced exotic food such as the souvlaki, pizza and kebabs. The major fast food franchises of today had all originated in the USA in the 1940s and 50s, and while Australia had been content thus far to survive on meat pies, milk bars and Chinese restaurants for take away treats, the 1960s ushered in a new wave. The fast food empires saw Australia as prime territory. Kentucky Fried Chicken was first to move in, establishing its first Australian store at Guildford in Sydney’s west in 1968. Pizza Hut opened its first store in Belfield in April, 1970. In that same year, amid the American invasion, the first major Australian-owned fast food franchise opened its store in Earlwood, NSW.

The first Hartees, now The Chicken Coop, Earlwood.

Seizing on the absence of hamburger franchises thus far in Australia (McDonalds would open their first location in 1971), Kellogg Food Products Pty. Ltd. had made an agreement with the American Hardee’s chain of hamburger restaurants to create ‘Hartee’s’, an American-style burgers-‘n-fries restaurant franchise. The first Hartee’s opened here, on the corner of Homer Street and Joy Ave in Earlwood, with the take-away shop below and the head office above. Unlike many other Australian attempts to emulate the American fast food experience, Hartee’s was a success – TV and radio carried the jingle “Hurry on down to Hartee’s, where the burgers are barbecued!”. Kelloggs planned for over 100 Hartee’s locations in Australia and New Zealand, but it didn’t quite work out that way…


Windsor Theatre/Mytilenian House – Canterbury, NSW

Canterbury's Windsor Theatre, 1981. Courtesy Barry Sharp and City of Canterbury Local History Photograph Collection.

Since 1938, this theatre has sat on the bank of the Cooks River, Canterbury. Originally called the Windsor Theatre, its proximity to the water made it prone to flooding and also, apparently, prone to thievery. The theatre suffered two safecrackings in the 1940s alone, a problem that doesn’t seem to have been experienced by its current tenants. The Windsor closed in 1981…

Mytilenian House, 2012.

…and was converted in 1982 into Mytilenian House, a meeting place for the Mytilenian Brotherhood, which itself was established in 1925. They’ve kept the screen area relatively intact:

I’m guessing they upgraded the safe, especially if the security around the back is anything to go by:

Grace Bros./Broadway Shopping Centre – Chippendale, NSW

Image by Historic Houses Trust.

In 1903, Albert and Joseph Grace established their flagship shop (flagshop?), ‘The Model Store’, in an 1896-built four-storey building on what was then George Street West (now Broadway). Dudes even constructed a private electricity plant to power the store. It took another 20 years before the twin store across Bay Street was built. In 1911, a theatre was constructed beneath the original building. Queen Elizabeth II visited the store in 1954. Grace Bros. set up their own removalist service from this building, now known as Grace Removals. The domes above the clocks were filled with water that operated the building’s hydraulic lifts.

But the party had to end sometime. Grace Bros. bailed on the site in 1992 and took their water with them, preferring to maintain their Pitt Street store as the new flagshop. The chain had been bought by Myer in 1983, but the name-change didn’t take effect until 2004. In 1998, the building was re-opened as the Broadway Shopping Centre, with a cinema complex on the top level. Did they forget they already had one downstairs?

Canterbury Services/Style Tiles – Canterbury, NSW

For all those waiting for some style to be forcibly injected into this blog, wait no more. Looks like someone took an old service station, ‘Canterbury Services’, and added some tiles. Very clever.

Those two gents in the driveway look a bit hot and bothered about having their photo taken, don’t they?

Robbos Spares/Lightsounds – Campsie, NSW

Image by Andrew Martyn.

This Canterbury Road address may be called Lightsounds now, but the sign above it still features the bizarre mascot of Robbos(sic) Spares, a spare car parts company. According to Robbos’s stunning website, Robbos set up shop here in 1984.

Robbos Spares, Canterbury Road Campsie, 2010. Image from

By now you’ve got that feeling like the word Robbos doesn’t make sense anymore, don’t you? Or is it just me?