Sometimes it’s hard to keep a good burger down. For those who haven’t followed the long, sad story of the Hartee’s hamburger franchise, here’s a quick recap.
With the advent of American fast food franchises in Australia in the late 60s and early 70s, Kelloggs teamed with the US-based Hardees burger chain to start Hartee’s, the first Australian fast food restaurant (despite its very red white and blue beginnings).
It was a near-instant success. Whether it was down to underlying xenophobia towards overseas brand names, smart management or just plain delicious burgers, by 1973 Hartee’s was king of the fast food hill in Australia.
Complacency became the daily special from then on, with a series of extravagant HQ upgrades and new outlets sprouting like weeds all over Sydney. Despite this, the chain was beginning to haemorrhage cash at a pretty severe rate, and McDonald’s was aggressively making major headway into the Australian scene. Something had to give.
And give it did, here at the Bankstown Hartee’s in 1975, when a current affairs program, acting on a tip-off, exposed the outlet as having served dog food in burgers. Overnight, Hartee’s packed up and disappeared, leaving only husks behind, and that’s where the story seems to end.
Except thanks to reader Phil, there’s a final piece of the puzzle to be put in place. I’d previously written that only the four former Hartee’s above still existed in any form around Sydney… Well, we all make mistakes. Just ask Bankstown Hartee’s.
Behold, the Manly Vale Hartee’s still stands. It’s currently Gilmour’s Comfort Shoes, but it pretty obviously fits in with the Hartee design.
In fact, this may be the most well-preserved Hartee’s still in existence. The Gilmour’s sign appears to be stuck on over the red roof, so it’s possible the Hartee’s logo remains underneath.
The original lights are still in place, designed to illuminate the Hartee’s name. Also still in place, as per Phil’s advice…
The original outdoor seating area! Now it’s presumably the shoe shop manager’s car park (c’mon, look at the prestige offered by that strange piece of land). Inside are just shoes, but really, they’ve served worse and called it burgers.
It’s not really a happy ending, or an ending at all, but it is (I’m guessing) the final footnote on what by now must be the most definitive account of the Hartee’s affair out there. There are still many mysteries surrounding the story (truly, more questions are raised than answered), but maybe one day one of those faceless, guilt-ridden Hartee’s executives will come out of hiding and reveal more. Hell, I’d even settle for the guy who served the dog food. As ever, if you know more, please let Past/Lives know. And RIP Hartee’s – we hartlee knew ye.
In the meantime, let’s take a minute to remember those four powerful words that watered more mouths than Mount Franklin, that were a city’s guilty pleasure in a time before Big Macs and Whoppers…in a time when a nation could feed itself.
As promised, here’s the first in a series of articles taking a look back at the top ten most popular Past/Lives posts of the last year. If I was smart, I would have picked the ten least popular posts so as to boost their views, but there’s a good reason the Belfield denture clinic never found its audience.
With that in mind, it’s to my complete amazement that I present the tenth most popular entry, Hurstville’s No. 1 Butchery.
Original article: Food Fair/ANZ Bank/The Base Store/No1 Butchery – Hurstville, NSW
First things first: there are no obvious changes. Given the building’s colourful history, it’s almost a surprise there’s been no activity over the last 12 months, but there you have it…NO changes whatsoever (perhaps with the exception of the chemist next door having become “Australia’s cheapest chemist”. Yeah, right). It’s as ugly a shopfront as ever, and that demonic pig in the logo is just as disturbing. I’d be willing to bet those people walking past are the same as last year, too.
What’s really interesting to me about this place is that just over the last few weeks, it’s exploded in terms of page views. Why? The whole point of this series was to show you how things have changed over a year, and to find something new to add, so this is a great start. What’s so special about this place? Then again, that’s probably what you were saying when I published the original article a year ago. Wait! Do you feel that? It’s moments like these that bring us closer, dear reader.
Don’t worry, they won’t all be like this.
At the dawn of the retail era, several big names were standing out amongst the dross in Sydney. Pitt Street was quickly becoming the place to be for all department stores, and David Jones was king. One of the apparent heirs to the throne was E. Way & Company. Originally a drapery claiming to the be the cheapest in Sydney (on Pitt Street? Yeah, right), E. Way was established as a department store in 1891. E. Way was acquired in 1955 by Farmers, which itself was acquired in 1961 by the Myer juggernaut.
These days, jewellery store Pandora occupies the tiny building that once featured a grand display to rival DJ’s. Look at how small (yet grand) the building is in comparison to the monstrous Westfield, and you get a sense of how easily satisfied shoppers were back then. It’s sad to think about how quickly these kinds of acquisitions and mergers can absolutely eliminate a brand, and E. Way is just another victim ‘honoured’ with an unreachable, leftover facade. It’s more a case of ‘it’s not worth bothering to take it down’ than ‘leave it up for history’s sake’. Isn’t it always the Way?
By remaining nameless, this relatively new Rockdale fruit market is presumably hoping to avoid the fates of its predecessors. First we have Coco Express, a women’s fashion outlet with a meaningless name. Seriously, does Coco Express evoke any thoughts of women’s clothing whatsoever? And if it does, what kind? Coconut bras and hula skirts?
Going back even further we can see this was once the domain of the Liquidators discount variety store, a Reject Shop reject. They’re all gone now so it’s safe to talk about them, and I’d like to say that for a business called the Liquidators, they left themselves open to a lot of ridicule by not completely covering their tracks and liquidating. I like that they got a ladder happening to paint over the higher instance of their logo, but ran out of liquidation for the awning. Budget indeed.
Unless I’m mistaken and this antique shop has decided to name itself Pizza Haven, this address used to house one of the ubiquitous-in-the-90s pizza stores. A few years ago, Eagle Boys bought out Pizza Haven and quickly set about replacing Pizza Haven locations with their own hot pink eyesores. Eagle Boys pizza is revolting, so it was a match made in heaven; there’s a reason it used to be known as “Pizza Heavin'”.