91 year Mr Fotiou closes his historical cafe for last time

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It’s the end of an era. 

The old Olympia Milk Bar owner Nick Fotiou, who has been holding out in the building since it was forcibly closed by the Council in 2017 after falling into disrepair, has finally left the Stanmore landmark and it has been boarded up.

Nick Fotiou ran the Olympia Milk Bar in Sydney's inner west and barely took a day off after buying it with his brother, John, in 1959.

FotiouHe refused to quit even as dust collected on the old decorations and mould started appearing, keeping the shelves stacked with confectionery boxes and a glass-fronted cabinet with soft drinks.

NSW Health acted over concerns for his welfare as the building, ridden with asbestos and pests, the ceiling and awning also collapsing, was deemed unsafe by the Inner West Council who ordered that the Olympia be closed until repairs were carried out.

However, whilst the council wouldn't let the milk bar re-open without extensive repairs; Mr Fotiou refused to start repairs until it was allowed to be opened. And so after a long battle ,Mr Fotiou refused to leave the premises and the Olympia remained closed.

Many people in the community that Greek City Times have spoken to, including builders and architects, have offered to help the very proud Mr Fotiou over the years but he would steadfastly refuse any assistance.

“I’ve had troubles and troubles and troubles,” he told the Herald in a story that touched many readers in 2018.

Mr Fotiou, who lived above the now darkened Olympia Milk Bar in Stanmore, was known over the years to be unwilling to speak about his private life despite his woes. 

Always insistent on not having his photo taken, however Mr Fotiou was often visible to passersby, moving in the shadows at the back of the shop.

Every morning without fail he would still don his apron, as though ready to serve any customers who might happen to still arrive for a milkshake or a snack.

Part of a much-loved history of Greek milk bars and listed on the NSW Heritage Register, over 4,500 people are part of an online Facebook closed group page called the 'Olympia Milk Bar Fan Club', created in support of the Olympia Milk Bar.

Some had visited him only last week and found that he was in good spirits.

After all of these years, 91 year old Mr Fotiou has finally retired and the shop has been boarded up. 

Mr Fotiou is adjusting to his new life in a nursing home.

Esteemed Evzones Photographer Nick Bourdaniotis. The Legend Behind the Lens.