How common a sight is this? Even if we’re not living in the golden age of the take-away shop (and we really aren’t), you still can’t seem to swing a dead focaccia in Sydney’s suburbs without hitting one of these, or an ex-one of these.
For those readers too young (pfft, yeah right) to remember, let me take you back for a moment. In my day, you could go to these places called milk bars or take-aways, which were usually plastered in Coca-Cola advertising. Not Pepsi…never Pepsi.
They’d make hot food and keep it in these giant contraptions called bain maries, which made it impossible to tell how long it’d been there. Crucially, they were also trojan horses into the then-fledgeling world of ethnic food: Australians not open minded enough to actually go to a Greek restaurant might still have a souvlaki at their local take-away. Ingenious, really.
This particular take-away seems to have spent most of its early years as a residential property before taking the plunge into the deep-fry. The kind of fatty junk sold here probably filled the stomachs of the blue-collar workers who once populated the area, or the staff and patients of Callan Park Mental Hospital which is just across the road, but as times and tastes changed it was out with the milkshakes and schnitzels (mmm, together at last), and in with the coffee and rolls.
But let’s go back even earlier, shall we, to a time before deep fried food clogged Australia’s arteries…
You’d better believe Mrs. Cutting wasn’t serving up dim sims and Chiko rolls to her 50 guests. I wonder if Dubbo’s local papers still herald the homecoming of any travelling Dubbogan (Dubsider? Dubbocastrian?)
The celebrations didn’t last long, because by 1943 the Cuttings had cut loose, and the jocks were in.
As you can see, Mr. John Smith (dynamic name, no wonder he became Jock) lived right here in the mid-1940s while working as a labourer. SEE? I WASN’T MAKING ALL THAT UP ABOUT IT BEING BLUE COLLAR!
Ahem. But once Jock’s labours were over, business became a little…mixed. A dynasty that would last over six decades began here for a measly 1500 pounds. I wonder if the take-away was making 140 pounds a week?
As recently as last year, the newly minted Rozelle Coffee Lounge was still feeding the locals, but in a much harsher, more competitive environment. Go to Rozelle today and there are gourmet cafes on every corner, so the more meat-and-potatoes establishments face an uphill battle, and that’s probably why the Coffee Lounge isn’t around today.
As the suburb has become gentrified and all the blue collars have turned to ironic skivvies, there’s no longer any call for a place like this. The Coffee Lounge knew it, as it’s currently under construction, presumably transforming into something more suitable to today’s clientele.
I don’t know about you, but I’ll always find those Coca-Cola takeaways suitable. There’s something really…comforting about them. If you drive into a country town and things are looking unfamiliar and unsettling in a Deliverance kind of way, a place like this is all you need to soften the sound of the banjos.
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.
Proudly presented by Coca-Cola is the Good Fortune takeaway. Over the years, I have never, ever seen this place open. Coke’s absolutely saturated it with signage, and there’s faded evidence that there was once even more. I’m guessing this wasn’t a place you headed to when you felt like a Pepsi.
If I were conspiracy minded, I might argue that Coke has paid (or threatened) the current owners to keep the signs up for the free advertising. Does this work as advertising? Is anyone looking at the dead husk of a Chinese restaurant and getting thirsty? The small, weathered sign on the side informs us that the advertising space (not a shop, an advertising space) is under exclusive contract to Coca-Cola. Can I ask why? It’s not like this is the Centerpoint Tower, or a place with amazing exposure. It is across the road from a school, however…the conspiracy deepens.
As old as the place is already (six digit phone number), the peeling paint on the awning suggests there’s an even older entity waiting to expose itself to the world. The shop appears to be part of the residential complex behind it, so it’s likely that someone bought the house and closed the shop. Good fortune for the homeowner, bad luck for the Good Fortune.