Akis Daikos is an ideas man. The brains behind the Tella Balls craze and concept cafe, and the Croissantoboureko, he is renowned on a global scale for conjuring up mindblowing creations that are not only an instant hit, they go viral, spreading across social media platforms worldwide like wildfire. He has so many ideas simmering all at once it is no wonder he is not one to rest on his laurels. With his hard work ethic and bottomless pit of creativity he has achieved a tremendous amount of success in all his endeavours, from Gasolina and Food Craft Espresso, to Tella Balls and now, in what many lamented was not a possible feat in Australia, he has managed to bring a taste of Greece, and more so Thessaloniki, into the heart of southern Sydney with The Good Filo.
A proud Greek-Australian whose parents hail from Florina and Lefkada, the Melbourne-born Daikos grew up in Sydney's Dulwich Hill and travelled to Greece for the first time at 16 years of age. A self-proclaimed risk taker, he knows what he wants and is relentless in his pursuit of making his dreams a reality. “Noone believed in me,” he says matter of factly. “They thought the donuts were a fad, even after it went viral, they thought the Tella Balls Cafe would be a fad, and yet we are opening another 8 stores this year.”
The Good Filo, an idea he has always wanted to see into fruition is a bakery (fourno), sweet shop (zaharoplastio) and home-made Greek meals (spitika fagita) in the one setting. “This place was 3 years in the making,” says Daikos. “I don't take shortcuts. I knew I wanted the three concepts into one, and spent months in Greece last year visiting bakeries all over the place. My bakers and pastry chefs are from Greece. My dream was to bring Greece here. With The Good Filo, people are really getting a taste and experience of Greece.”
From the mouth-watering, crave-inducing bakery favourites such as Spanakopita and Kaseropita, to the delectable desserts in the zaharoplastio such as the Bougatsa, Ekmek Kataifi, Tsoureki and Galaktoboureko to the homemade meals just the way yiayia makes them, including Pastitsio and Yemista, the concept is genius and surpasses hype. New creations include chocolate covered Melomakarona, Tsourektoboureko and Oreo Kokakia. Everything is made on the premises and in the opening weeks they could not keep up with demand, with queues out the door each day and food flying off the shelves quicker than you could say "Loukoumas tis Paralias parakalo" (popular at breakfast with a coffee).
There is also the beverage list, which includes Frappe and Freddocino just the way they are made in Greece, Baklava milkshakes, Greek coffee and Tobys Estate coffee for those not wanting to deviate from their latte. From its impressive decor (the airbushed feature wall with Thessaloniki's Lefkos Pyrgos warrants a special mention for its magnificence, and the tiles are all imported from Greece), Greek products such as Ion chocolate, Merenda and Loux drinks adorning the shelves, as well as the daily playlists of Greek music (and DJ Dimitri Velen live on Saturdays) it really does feel like you are in a cafe in Greece. As Daikos sums it up “people step in here, they're in Greece, they take two steps onto the footpath, they're in Australia.”
Epitomising true Greek hospitality, Daikos goes the extra mile for his customers. He introduced a cheeky Vegemite Kaseropita on Australia Day and red velvet Tsoureki on Valentine's Day. He recently made Nounou milk available after several requests and he has brought in a special array of nistisima dishes (lent friendly) for Sarakosti which commenced with Laganes on Kathara Deftera (Clean Monday) and includes Moustokouloura, Milopita, stuffed calamari and octopus pasta. People will also be able to buy their Easter Tsourekia here in Holy Week. Noone is allowed to be left out on Daikos' watch. And what an observant watch that is, in keeping with his perfectionist ways he is very hands on, you will often find him directing staff, mingling with customers, taste testing and making sure everyone is happy.
The Good Filo might contain the meaning for friendship in its play on words but talking to Daikos his love for his family is clear. He has both his mum and mother in law working their magic in the kitchen, making it very much a family affair and is quick to give credit to his wife, “she is my biggest supporter, without her I wouldn’t be where I am today. She has supported me in everything I have done and has always believed in me,” he says.
Without a doubt, Daikos is his own best advertisement. Personable, hospitable, business-minded, social media savvy, passionate about his work and quick to offer a friendly greeting in Greek to all who cross his path. He is gracious in accepting the many accolades being fired his way, one of which is that he has created a space all demographics feel comfortable using as a meeting point. From the teenagers downing Baklava milkshakes and Oreo Tsourekia to groups of friends getting together for a homestyle lunch to the yiayiathes sitting down with a Greek coffee and slice of Karidopita- he has managed to make it a welcoming place for young and old, Greeks and non-Greeks where everyone feels comfortable and content.
He is in his element when thinking up his crazy creations and is the first to admit that a degree of "Trela" (craziness) is needed. He finds inspiration in his annual holiday to Greece with his wife and two daughters, which one can assume is the only time he allows himself rest and relaxation. An avid reader who is constantly seeking to further his education, he has many goals for the future and his long-term ones are surprisingly not related to food. Citing successful people as a source of influence he would like to share his experiences of success through way of online business, writing a book and motivational talks.
For the moment he is content with continuing his innovative creations and bringing Greece to the Greek Australians who love it, the Greeks who miss it, and introducing its flavours and ambience to those who have never been.
A: 336/342 Rocky Point Rd, Ramsgate