City News

New York, New York no more

A living link to Sydney’s past was lost last Saturday when the New York Restaurant in Kings Cross closed forever – a victim of Sydney’s soaring property prices.

The eatery began in the 1950s in Bayswater Road  below the now vacant Barclay Hotel, and moved to its present site in nearby Kellett Street in the 1960s.

The restaurant is closing because new owners of the property have doubled the rent, say owners Paul Varvaressos and John Kakaris, who has been with the restaurant since the beginning.

Diners could experience Sydney cuisine pretty much exactly as it was in the 1950s – including low, low prices by today’s standards.

The menu covers all the staples of the time, offering roast breast of chicken with ham (plus veges) for $8; mixed grills for $10; soup of the day (with meal, $1, without meal, $3) and beef rissoles with bacon for $7.

Ever-popular was the roast lamb with mint sauce or pork with apple sauce with veges for $7. A pot of tea with the meal was $1.

“Sweets” include wine trifle with ice cream for $3.5.

“We love what we are doing – it’s like a family around here,” says Mr Kakaris.

The restaurant, which has been filmed, written about and photographed many times over the years, catered to locals who wanted a healthy fresh meal on a budget.

“Where will we eat now?” one customer asked at lunch last week.

“It’ll have to be the golden arches,” was the ironic reply.

The New York was famous for never turning anyone away, and would feed homeless people. They provided a take-away service, with many people collecting meals to take to friends who have mobility problems. Boarding house residents treated it as a home away from home.

As word spread, locals poured in during the restaurant’s last week for a final farewell meal and to thank Paul, John and waiter Geoff for their good-humoured service over the years.

by Michael Gormly

John Kakaris and Paul Varvaressos reflect on a long history in Kings Cross