Category Archives: milk bars

Take Away Food/For Lease – Bexley, NSW

In just a few short years, the inviting hallmarks of a milk bar have become warning signs that a building has fallen derelict. There was a time when you’d see that Streets logo, a giant hamburger mural or one of those giant Coke cans with the name of the milk bar wrapped around the lip and think to yourself that yes, you were actually quite hungry and a big burger with the lot really would go down well right about now. These days, it’s more common that you’d sigh and keep moving, because there’s a McDonalds or a Subway just up the road, and at least then you can drive through and not have to get out of the car because you’re making good time and the in-laws’ll be upset if they don’t get to see the grandkids today.

Inside: classic milk bar decor. I always wondered what the mirrored walls were for. Was it to make the place look bigger? Was it to further enhance the iconic scenario of sitting in a milk bar and sipping a shake by allowing you to see yourself? Or was it for Spiro to be able to make sure he’s always looking dapper between serving up fish ‘n chips?

I like that even though they were ‘take away food’ shops, nostalgia has us missing the eat-in experience. If this place was open today, you wouldn’t want to take it away – you’d want to bask in an ambiance of another time, one that back in the day seemed timeless itself, and one you thought would always be there.

Milk Bar/Professional Laser Hair Removal – Strathfield, NSW

It takes a visionary mind to look at a milk bar and think ‘THAT’S where I’m going to realise my dream of removing hair by laser, professionally.’

This shop is across the road from the former Arnotts Biscuits factory at Strathfield, and would have once provided workers with hamburgers and refreshments. From what I can gather, Ecks was a big player in the soft drinks industry until the 1960s, when it was absorbed by Shelleys. Shelleys was absorbed by Coca-Cola, and the brand name changed to Kirks. Soft drink melodrama aside, it looks like somone punched a hole in the wall below the Ecks logo in the above picture. What’s that about?

Vanessa’s Milk Bar/For Lease – Belfield, NSW

Milk bars have taken on a kind of mythical quality, especially with the late Gen-Y set. In death, they’re trendy and retro in ways they could never have been in life. They’re kind of like Michael Jackson in that way – now that he’s gone, everyone remembers how cool and trendsetting he once was, but they forget (intentionally or not) the creepy stuff. Years of film and TV showing our favourite characters hanging out in cafes and burger joints have inspired many youngsters to want to find their own hangout joints, but as the milk bars die off all that’s left are the pubs.

There’s a fine line too between milk bars and charcoal chicken shops. Most charcoal places you’d find today don’t do milkshakes, or are doing some kind of Portuguese style cooking to set themselves apart from the regular charcoal style. Problem is, the charcoals are now in the minority.

Oh, and for anyone still wondering: Vanessa’s Milk Bar was run by a cranky old Greek guy named George (never call him Vanessa), who would rouse at you if you stared at his exhaustive lolly assortment for too long. C’mon, George, you knew we had to look. I wonder how he reacted during the open inspections?