Royalty Tea Rooms (1932-1933)
Mum and Dad decided to go back into business to keep things going. They took over the Royalty Tea Rooms at 544 Hay Street, next to Rowe’s Pharmacy on the Pier Street corner. The tearooms were part of the Woods’ Building and kept the name “The Royalty” till 1985.
1933 was another year of change. We had to give up running the Royalty Tearooms because Mum was not well. Cooking and baking is always hard work when you run a business and she had to have a break. We went through a lean period trying to make ends meet for the horses were not producing any income either. Winning or losing they still eat their heads off.
Phar Lap Cafe (1934)
Named after Australia’s great racehorse of the 1929/30/31 years, the cafe was owned by Mr R L Wickstead. It was at 574 Hay Street on the corner of Cremorne Arcade. A new job meant a new home and we moved to Victoria Park where there was a good tram and railway service to the City. Mum or Dad had to be on the job early in the day and the house was a short walk from train and tram. I recall the house as about No. 81 Kitchener Avenue, on the corner of Axon Street. It was a white weatherboard house with a lone wood fence running along Axon Street to the end of the block, looking south.
I remember that on several occasions I had to catch an early tram across the Causeway to go into the Phar Lap Cafe to cut wood for the fire and earn brekky on the cafe. Opposite the cafe, on the corner of Cathedral Avenue, was one of the best-known residentials in Perth, the Crystal Hostel. It was run by the Ollie Rees family and one of the sons, Sanie, was posted to the same Air Force Squadron as myself during World War II. I came to know him well.
Next to the cafe was Leo Harris’s newsagency where I used to buy some of my comics and books. I think there used to be a barber’s saloon in the back and the shop also sold tobacco and cigarettes. Mr Harris was also a stamp collector and dealer. He used to talk to me about stamps and I bought many singles and packets from his shop. He sold magic tricks and these took some of my pocket money
Adelphi Cafe (1934)
Back at the Phar Lap Cafe, Mr Wickstead had decided to sell out to a buyer who wanted the premises for a new type of business. This meant that Mum and Dad had to watch out for another position. It turned up quickly and with only a short break they transferred to the “Adelphi Cafe” (not to be confused with the Adelphi Hotel) run by George Auguste at 598 Hay Street. It was right opposite the Town Hall and close to the “Corner House” and Barrack Street. I was given the job of coming in first thing each morning to get the fires going before cutting the wood for the rest of the day. In later years Mr Auguste did move across the street to a new shop over at the Town Hall, where he was next to Norm Craven’s Pharmacy. Redevelopment was a likely reason.
The Heather Tearooms (1934-1935)
Late in 1934 Mum and Dad had opened their new tearooms and cake shop business, “The Heather Tearooms”, at 123 Barrack Street, next to Dawson and Harrison’s, the seed merchants and nurserymen. Browne’s Milk Bar was at 127, and it is still there today, over fifty years later. Barrack Street, from Murray to Wellington Streets, has not changed a lot since that time. Most of the buildings were built around 1900 on one side or the other of the turn of the century and are now standing stolidly as they wait for the arrival of the year 2000. Their luck may not last out till then as the “wreckers” are casting an eye on them.
Queen of Hearts (1935-1936)
Turnover at “The Heather” was good but Mum and Dad soon found that there was not enough cooking and baking space to cope with the increased business. When a nearby shop, run by Billie Flint, a blonde-haired lady who I remember well, became available we took it over. The tobacconist and hairdresser business there had been relocated by the Flints who transferred to the basement of the Savoy Hotel, down off Hay Street, as the “Savoy Hairdressers and Tobacconists”. The flints were very well-known in Perth.
We moved into our new shop at 115 Barrack Street sometime around March 1935 and it opened as the “Queen of Hearts”. You can have fun naming shops as well as racehorses. Mum thought up the names. The shop ran right through from Barrack Street to the lane that was alongside the Grand Theatre which fronted onto Murray Street. At the front we were able to provide plenty of room for the table and counter customers. Further in we had good wall space for stoves and ovens on the south wall, our clean-up area across the back, and the preparation section along the north wall. A passage ran alongside the shop from the front street to the back lane. It was very handy for deliveries and saved tradesmen from traipsing through the shop with their goods. The premises were, and still are, part of Smith’s Building at 115/117 Barrack Street. The shop at 117 was occupied by Nic Zafer, the fruiterer. The Zafer family included Andrew, John and Sid. We were quite friendly with them and met them again many times down through the years. Andrew went into the RAAF later, training at Geraldton if I remember right, and John went on to become a teacher. Later he was at Tuart Hill.
When we got the “Queen of Hearts” underway we sold the “Heather” to the Champion Bootmakers, who were moving from No. 107 Barrack Street. Business in the city was starting to climb out of the Depression and as new businesses started, empty shops filled up. Other existing businesses changed hands as proprietors responded. Behind this demand were go-ahead businessmen who had faith in the future, and the get-up-and-go to work hard and succeed. A good example is W J (Bill) Lucas, who had a shop in Barrack Street. Bill sold radios and electrical goods, and had one shop in 1933 and three in 1935. He expanded into the cycle trade and did well, especially with the Lucas bicycle. One model had a radical change in the frame construction whereby the top bar was not straight across but curved and sloping. Bill was himself a great cyclist and won several amateur championships. A serious motorcycle accident saw him retire from active sport. In later years he became best-known as a prominent personality in yachting, a sport he still follows.
Barrack Street was well-known for its tearooms and cafes. Those I recall are Corner House which was on the north-east corner of Barrack and Hay Streets, the Sydney Cafe about four doors further down, and the very popular Athol Tearooms which were a couple of shops away next to Wilson and Johns, the seedsmen and florists, who were at Number 74. I remember these places not only from the family being in the trade, but through my daily service as a telegraph messenger. I really came to know the Perth area well, shop by shop, office by office, and building by building.
Other eating places on the east side of Barrack Street included the refreshment rooms on the McDonald’s Building corner. At 120 were the George Gorman family related to Tom Gorman, the caterer. We knew the family pretty well right down through the years. Mrs Gorman lived in Lord Street till she died at 96, late in 1985. The family included three girls, Eunice, Billie and Maxine, and the boys, George and Brian. There were 17 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren. Maxine was a good singer and dancer and I can remember her appearing on stage at the Ambassadors Theatre.
The Olympia Cafe was further down the block, next to the tailor (‘New Suit for $7.95’), and then next to the Railway Hotel (still there at 130) was the Regent Cafe. The London Fisheries and Dining Room (now The Strand) was at 144, then Kidd’s Fruit Mart. Masel’s clothing store (Craig’s Menswear) was on the corner. Nearby in Wellington Street, at Crellin’s, a haircut or shave was 6d (6c).
On the west side of Barrack Street you could dine at the Weld Club or look in at Tattersalls Club (5 Barrack, demolished 1966) if you were a member, but if not you could cross over the Terrace and drop into the “Windsor Tearooms” or the “Alhambra Bars” (corner Hay and Barrack) on the way to Hay Street. A good restaurant could be found just down past Cecil Brothers (former name of Betts & Betts) big shoe store. It was the “Belvedere Dining Rooms” (83) where they served top quality meals. A few doors further on, just before you got to the pawnbrokers and Perth Hotel (Hotel Perth, corner Barrack and Murray) corner was the “Monte Carlo Cafe”. The people heading for the “Queen of Hearts”, our shop at No. 115, would continue along Barrack Street, after crossing over Murray Street, passing the Bank of New South Wales on the corner at 103, and going by several shops before reaching us. One of these shops was occupied by Eric Sampey, the photographer. We both met again in 1942 in the same Air Force Squadron at a World War II base.
Mum and Dad, with the help of brother Cecil, who was back from the country, turned out the tasty pastries that attracted the many customers that came through our doors. The “Queen of Hearts” shop became well-known for its apple slices and apple turnovers, its queen cakes and butterfly cream cakes. Lamingtons, custard tarts and coconut macaroons were all very popular. Our pasties and meat pies could not be beaten. The pastry had to be just right and the minced meat in the pies had to be balanced with the gravy to make sure that pies had firm shells and not the soggy base we see so much today. As I remember it, pies were sold out of the ovens and not warmers. On the sweeter side we had nice lemon meringue pies, tasty pumpkin pies, and apple pies, in all family sizes. Mum and Dad used the tastiest recipes, the best ingredients, and their top-class skills to produce delicacies that were always in demand.
We served meals as well. In the mid-thirties a meal cost about one shilling and sixpence (15c) all-inclusive. For that you had soup, your choice of the several main course options, sweets, tea or coffee and ample bread and real butter on the table. For many this was the day’s main meal. Specialities on the menu included roasts, veal cutlets, rabbit, brains, and the popular lamb’s fry. We did not have any waitpersons but we did have a good group of waitresses who liked their jobs and looked after the customers.
They wore black dresses of medium length with white lace collars and sleeve trimmings, and a white apron. There were a couple of rules the girls had to remember. One was that the tables had to be cleared quickly so that no customer sat down to an untidy, just-vacated table. The other was that meals prepared hot had to be served hot to the customer. Two of our waitresses were a blonde Kathy, and Mavis Hoad from Pingelly, who later married my brother Cecil. Lou was second cook and Mr Bessen the cook’s assistant.
In the summer, cold meat and salad plates were popular, and fruit salad and cream went with them. We bought our fruit from Ah Sam’s across the road at 114, Kidd’s Fruit Mart, and Peters fruit shop around the corner in Murray Street, next to the Grand Theatre. The specialist fruit shop was The Pink Top over at 126. It was run by Basil Palassis and if I recall the story right he had a metal plate in the top of his head. He did have fine top-grade fruit and his customers came from all over the city to buy it even when his prices were a little higher.
The Queen of Hearts was still going along well but it was hard work and Mum felt the strain from time to time. We still had a couple of horses that had to be cared for and worked at the track or jogged about the near city areas, and this meant that Dad was not able to have as much time at the shop as he would have liked. We had good support staff including Mavis Hoad who was now working with us as a waitress. She was a tall girl with a nice personality and later she and my elder brother, Cecil, became firm friends and a few years later they were married. She had her 21st birthday with us later in the year, in May.
The Queen of Hearts tearooms were sold in July or August 1936. Mavis Hoad stayed on with the new people for a short while and then moved to the Horseshoe Coffee Palace on the NW corner of Pier and Murray Streets, where she was a waitress in the dining rooms there. Our stay at No. 115 Barrack Street had been an interesting part of my life and I will never forget the people we met in the nearby shops with which we did business. Many of them were friends right down the years.
North Beach Shop (1936-1937)
After we had sold the “Queen of Hearts” and moved house to the block at Herdsman’s Lake we opened a beach shop in premises on the corner of North Beach Road and what is now West Coast Highway (it may then have been called The Promenade). It was a concrete building with a front verandah with steps right across and two thick round concrete pillars, the sort of building that might have been a Road Board or official office of some kind. We took it over in the off-season and set it up ready for the summer months. While this was done I would often go out there by bus and stay overnight, and take two or three friends on any long weekend when we were not playing football. There was plenty of room for us to sleep and eat after we had a walk or a swim. I have a snap or two from those little holidays which shows me with three pals, Eugene Mann, Syd Gibson who captained Perth Central Seniors in the following year, and Ron Emery who was the accountant for the booksellers, Carrolls, in the 1950s and later. More happy days.
William Street Shop (1936-1937)
When the beach shop was set up we rented or leased it out to a person still known to me by name only and we took over a shop at 199 William Street, just near James Street. A pretty busy area in those days especially in the food trade. Wing Hing’s (grocers, 297 William Street) was nearby.
Many people lived closer to the city centre than is the case these days, and they often walked along William Street to the city. We were on the western side of the street and immediately behind us was a service lane. Right behind us was Smily’s Stables and Saleyards (on James Street). Perth will never see the like again. Smily’s, like McEnroe’s, was always busy and it had fascinated me since I first started delivering telegrams there. They sold horses and feed, and probably harnesses as well, although Murray Street East was where the big saddlers, Arundels, were.
Our shop in William Street was going along pretty well by the time we were into the new year and Dad was now well settled in at Herdsman’s Parade. The shop had two room accommodation at the back of the second floor of the building and Mum and I would sleep there overnight. We could then get up early and get the fire and ovens going for baking pies and cakes and the other delicacies we sold. Dad would work the horses early and then feed them and come on into the shop. The counter assistants would be at work by the time I took my five-minute walk to work at the Post Office where I used to start at 8.45am and finish at 5.00pm. On weekends and holidays we would stay out at the Herdsman’s Parade house.
Teacup Tearooms and Mum’s Tearooms Kalgoorlie (1942-1951)
(In 1942 after Walter and Sarah moved to Kalgoorlie) They quickly opened up tearooms on the north side of Hannan Street and then opened “The Teacup” on the SE corner of Hannan (245) and Cassidy Street there renting the old Federal Jewellers premises of Ron Smailes.
(NOTE: In 1947 there appears to have been some legal issues in relation to the Cash family and Mum’s Tearooms at 262 Hannan Street, Kalgoorlie as evidenced in this Kalgoorlie Miner article. Doug makes no mention of this matter.)
(In 1949) Up in Kalgoorlie my mum and dad were doing well in the tearooms and baking business with brother Roly assisting. Cecil, my elder brother, was a good cook and he was the chef down at the hotel in Mount Barker(?). My sister, Alice Blanche, and I were public servants in our earlier working days, although when visiting Kalgoorlie we had no trouble in serving behind the counter.
(In 1951) The sale of the tearooms was near-finalised for 1 July.