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National Museum of Australia

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Framed sign of 'The Original BUSY BEE MILK BAR'

2010.0014.0016

Framed sign of 'The Original BUSY BEE MILK BAR'

Object information

Physical description

A rectangular handpainted sign on cream coloured cardboard mounted in a black painted wooden frame, and with the text 'The Original / 'BUSY BEE' / MILK BAR & REFRESHMENT Room / Established 1916.' The text is handpainted in black, red, blue and green. The cardboard is yellowed around the edges and marked by moisture, particulalrly at the lower left corner.

Statement of significance

This collection consists of the fixtures and fittings of the Busy Bee Café, Gunnedah, NSW. It also includes examples of operational equipment such as a juicer, a hot drink dispenser, crockery, glasses, milkshake containers, and tea pots, many of which are engraved or embossed with the café name and logo, as well as paper-based material such as signs, menus and ledgers containing staff records and details of orders from suppliers.

The Busy Bee Café began operating in the 1920s. From 1933, it was run by Lambros Zantiotis, a Greek immigrant from the island of Kythera, and his family until the café closed in 2004. Greek cafés marked the beginning of the Americanisation of Australian eating habits, introducing milk shakes, sundaes and sodas to their Australian customers, but were identified as 'Greek' because of the nationality of the owners. The popularity of the cafés was due to their good food, good service and extended opening hours. The Greek café was part of the Australian rural landscape for much of the twentieth century but only a few now remain in operation and opportunities to collect around this aspect of rural social life are rapidly diminishing.

Object information

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