One of the country’s oldest milk bars — and Sydney’s most reliable time-warp into the early ’60s — has been forced to shut.
Olympia Milk Bar has long fallen into disrepair, which is part of its charm, but also why the council finally intervened, ordering it shut until major ceiling and facade damage is dealt with and the building is brought up to code.
Nicholas Fotiouis has owned the milk bar since 1959, and is quite reclusive: often called Dr. Death due to his unwelcoming demeanour and the store’s lack of light. This is also part of the bar’s charm.
“It’s an amazing place and it would be terrible to lose it,” Effy Alexakis, who is close to Fotiouis, told a reality website. “That’s his life and he has nowhere else to go, and has no family. His life is that shop.
“But I’m not surprised that the council got involved. I think they’ve been turning a blind eye for a long time. All the front is ready to collapse and while he had some repairs done, they look pretty shonky. I think it really is a health risk now.”
As least it won’t be demolished anytime soon, as the milk bar is heritage listed by the NSW Heritage Register, which preserves buildings with “historical, aesthetic and social significance.”
Despite fan groups rallying to attempt to save the business, the Inner West Council actually acted on a tip off from a customer.
“At the moment, the bare minimum requirement is internal propping, but council is working with the owner and a family member towards a longer-term solution to ensure the premises are safe,” a council spokesperson said.
“Council will not force a sale [but] it cannot give authorisation to reopen until the building is made safe for both the owner and the public.”