In Humans of SKY, Yarraville

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Eleni Amanatidis

“When Antonios realized what we were doing, he asked his friend who had a tractor to pick us up and allowed us to continue our relationship. Dimitrios and I knew each other for one year, before marrying in 1955.

To be honest, if it wasn’t for Dimitrios, I wasn’t planning on getting married. I wanted to be a seamstress, run a business and teach in schools.

For the next seven years, I continued teaching in schools. My first and oldest son, Tony was born, and Dimitrios was kept busy serving in the army. However, we had a bigger calling – Australia. Dimitrios had family here, predominantly in Sydney and also in Adelaide. Wanting to be with family, we all arrived in 1962 by ship, stopping in Fremantle and Adelaide.

Yarraville had a big Greek population then, and we decided to come here. We lived in the house next to St Nicholas, Greek Orthodox Church for a month, before moving to our first rental in Francis Street before purchasing our first home in Simpson Street. The house has since been knocked down.

I had my second son in 1965, and my youngest son in 1972.
Within a week of arriving in Yarraville, I got a job as a seamstress. Dimitrios got a job in Smorgon’s Meat Abattoirs. We had friends and family here and were happy. In 1971, we made our first trip to Greece for a holiday with my two sons and were there for four months. I’ve since been back five times, with the last trip back in 1998. We’ve been involved in several businesses over the years and have had some losses. We are getting on well, so we had decided not to go back to Greece.

Dimitrios had remained in Melbourne. Where Yarra Lounge is now, there used to be a Greek restaurant owned for a few years, by Dimitrios and Eleni. Not long after we converted it into a café, the business closed. We also spent at least 20 years running our butcher shop where Cafe Terroni stands now. Next door was also my brother-in-law, Niko’s kafenio (café) which is now L’uccellino. Niko also owned the local delicatessen where Creative House Yarraville is now located.

When I returned from my four month holiday in Greece, I was working in the restaurant as a cook and kitchen hand, followed by the butcher shop.

One thing was clear – I wasn’t sewing anymore.

Over the years, we have had family deaths and hardships. However, we are happy. Dimitrios suffers from Parkinson’s disease and relies on me to do the daily chores. Every day, we watch TV and sleep on the couch.

In 2016, my granddaughters Anatoli and Eleftheria along with their Uncle Tony approached me with the idea of opening a Greek restaurant under my name. Food would be prepared, sticking to my handwritten recipes. Until today, I still can’t believe it’s actually happened.

I have a stray cat that I’ve affectionately called Eleftheria. It comes in at 7am and 5pm, knowing it would be fed with food and milk. Truth is, I don’t even know the sex of the cat!

Looking ahead, I no longer have lofty ambitions to achieve anything else. I have lived my life. The only things that I would ask are for all my grandkids to stay strong, to enjoy and live their lives, right up to the day I go. I am still on my feet and I never fail to thank God for what I’ve got.”


Part 2 of 2 – Eleftheria Amanatidis

“Obviously, we’re not the ones cooking in the kitchen; we’ve given the chef everything he needs to know and like every chef, he’s put his own twist to it. Our aim is to provide our customers with their own individual experiences each time they visit. We want them to get some kind of journey and connection with the food like we do.

Even after all these years, when Eleni and her girlfriends meet for coffee, she’d write down a new recipe whenever it’s brought up. This all happens between all the talking and laughing.

Their coffee sessions are a daily occurrence and it’s a whole day affair. She likes it, and it’s one big family. We are lucky to have Dimitrios as the patriarch of the family; as he has a big family in Melbourne, they all come here!

In the 19 months leading up to the restaurant opening, I did not anticipate the amount of work required. I threw myself into the deep end, and just went with it. As there was no one else to run it, I decided to run the restaurant. I worked in hospitality before but it was nothing like this. I’ve got the support of the whole family, and they give me the confidence to keep learning and bettering myself. It’s been a journey.

Anatoli has her day job but helps out on weekends. I like having the social interaction with customers. It’s like hairdressing, but it’s a different experience as I’m not looking over their hair! It gives me a real sense of pride, especially when they’ve enjoyed their meal.

My goals this year are to feel happy, support and manage the staff, tweak any problems the shop may have and most importantly to perfect things slowly.

I have never been overseas. I would like to go to Greece next year with my family, along with Eleni and Dimitrios. Whether it happens or not, it would be with Anatoli. My extended family – many of them are of similar age as we are in Greece and have only spoken through with us through Facebook and it would be amazing to see them.”



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Showing 7 comments
  • Like most of us, we would have walked past Eleni’s Kitchen + Bar while it was under renovation for over a year. Humans of SKY 2017 alumni George Vourvahakis, owner of Andrew’s of Yarraville had also told me he will be supplying the meat to the restaurant. He also told me briefly about the history Eleni’s family brings into Yarraville.

    When it first opened, my wife went for a meal there with her girlfriends are really enjoyed the experience. So much so she went back a second time in March, along with I, the kids and a family friend.

    I took a picture of the feast we had and shared it on Humans of SKY’s Instagram page. On the way out, Thierry stopped me and thanked me for sharing the meal on social media, and shoved a box of galaktoboureko and ekmek in my hands. I kept refusing but Thierry wouldn’t have a bar of it.

    We’ve kept in touch since and when she asked me about getting a profile, I asked politely if I could tie it in with Eleni. Thierry was only too happy to.

    On a cold Saturday morning two weeks ago, the three of us caught up in Eleni’s for a profile. Eleni doesn’t speak much English, and Thierry was the translator. These days I can’t walk past some of the local restaurants in Yarraville without thinking of the family’s legacy!

  • Kristina Tonkovic

    I love this story 💗

  • Clara Givossi

    Erene Krimniotis bit of history, love it 💗

  • Mary Maraki thank you for your kind words and support. I am only listening to feedback from the community and I will try my best to find as many of them. Locals who see me often in SKY or on social media will know I am trying, but many just don’t respond, don’t understand social media or don’t speak English. The community is lucky to have Thierry there, translating Eleni’s story to me.

    What a rich and wonderful story. A real Yarraville history lesson.

  • Jess Halloran

    Joey Seph

  • Aleksandar Lazic

    Thank you so much John – fantastic as always

  • Nic Cuni

    Great story and amazing to see Eleni’s Kitchen servicing the people of the West yet again! We love going there!

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