Gosford. It’s unfair to liken the city to a brain-dead coma patient, but I’m going to do it anyway. The body functions, but there’s no drive, no spirit, no passion. One might even go so far as to call Gosford the zombie of the Central Coast.
If I’m being too harsh, it’s only because it’s so heartbreaking to see that main strip and what it’s become, and all the promise that lies underneath. Even something as simple as a cold drink on a hot day is too much for Gosford to provide, so depleted are its refreshment options.
One might look up and spy the Orion Cafe, only to return to thirsty disappointment when the shop underneath hosts a tattoo parlour, a beauty salon, or more likely, nothing at all. It’s the way of Gosford’s Mann Street.
The problem is you’re 87 years too late. In 1926, the Diacopoulos family – renowned in Gosford for their cafes – opened another success story at this address. The Orion quickly became “Gosford’s leading sundae shop and refreshment rooms”. Imagine such a thing today. You can’t.
The Orion was just one of many cafes and eateries maintained by the Diacopouloses (Diacopouli?), brothers Peter, Nick and Angelo. The brothers themselves have long since passed away, with Angelo, the last surviving sibling, passing away in Sydney in 1995 aged 94.
These days, all that remains of the Orion Cafe is the sign atop the shell that once housed Rotary meetings, dispensed hand-dipped chocolates and served up delicious milkshakes and sundaes. Tax accountants, ever a fun vacuum, have taken up in the neighbouring shop, condemning the Orion to a lifetime as just another old relic on Mann Street.
In many ways, the Beverly Hills of the southern hemisphere has absolutely nothing in common with the sun-soaked haven of Hollywood decadence up north, but I’d argue this – it’s even tougher to make it here than it is in that notoriously tough town.
Case in point: this small takeaway shop on yet another strip of pointless shops is rarely open, a unique approach to customer service anywhere but Beverly Hills. Why? Do people not need to eat? Why can’t this place just be open on a hot afternoon when someone might want to take a drink away and refresh themselves? What was it about the concept of a cafe/takeaway that Stan, Kayem, and even the infinitely more aesthetically pleasing Dolan all failed to understand? Somewhere, some landlord is laughing as they review their fourth tenancy application in as many years.
Surrounded by a seemingly inexhaustible army of mobile phone shops and money transfer stations, the late Campsie Spice Supermarket exists now only to remind us that if you can’t make it as a milk bar selling Streets ice creams and Shelleys drinks, you definitely ain’t making it as a spice supermarket. In your laziness you’re sending mixed signals, dudes! You weren’t selling Shelleys drinks!
Maybe the building’s cursed to bring bad luck to all who dwell within it, such as the unfortunately named Edward Raper, who in 1934 attempted to rent the dwelling as a ‘good dwelling’ to potential dwellers for only three pounds. I can’t help but wonder if his ad got any replies….probably. They were more innocent times.
If we flash forward to 1949 we can see that this place was home to W. Wall, a real estate agent selling property in streets (Ceres Street Padstow) that no longer exist. Coincidence? CURSED, I TELL YOU.
Once upon a time, this shop would have served the hamburger and hot chip needs of as many residents of Eastwood as could be bothered walking to it. These days, it’s easier to just go to the Macquarie Centre.
Situated along Balaclava Road (bal-A-KLAAAAR-VA, or buh-LACK-luvuh for our SA readers), it’s clear that this was one of those corner shops of yore, the kind that would require a visit every few days to stock up on such olden days essentials like sugar, lard and chicken feed. But as times changed, so did the shop’s offerings.
Above the roller-door of the former loading dock is a telltale sign boasting of hamburgers and hot chips, cunningly repurposed as…some kind of reverse sign. You can bet that when it opened, hamburgers and hot chips were probably just gleams in Fred Hamburger and Glenn ‘Hot’ Chipps’ eyes, but to stay alive in the corner shop game, you’ve gotta diversify.
By what looks like the late 90s or, at a stretch, early 2000s, the place was even supplementing its bread-and-butter milk supply with Ski yoghurt. With a Woolworths within 5km in every direction by this point, it was a desperate time calling for desperate measures. But even the combined deliciousness of Fruits of the Forest weren’t enough to reverse the fortunes of this store.
In the end, the big boys won, and this dangerous threat to their dominance and manhood was eliminated. Do you think Coles and Woolworths shared a beer over this death? Do you think they even noticed? Undeniably aware of the building’s deep-fried past, the current owners have decided to take it in a different direction – residential. Won’t Coles and Woolworths be pleased?
The changing face of take-away in Strathfield. If you look closely, you can see the fading sign advertising hamburgers and BBQ chicken above the A/Cs. If you look even closer, you can see that this new shop sells ‘Mr. Dduckbocki and Miss Kkochi’. It’s not really all that different: dduckbocki is a kind of hot and spicy rice cake, while kkochi is skewered chicken. Whether or not you can get dduckbocki ‘with the lot’ is unknown, but what is clear is that Mr. Dduckbocki and Miss Kkochi clearly qualify as suicide food.