Sometimes known as “The Haunted Milk Bar,” this shopfront retaining much of its original 1939 interior, fit-out and signage is a Sydney landmark, albeit an aging and decrepit one.
Because of its crumbling exterior and the strange behavior of its owner, the Olympia Milk Bar has become a local attraction and the subject of much speculation.
The milk bar is run by a man named Nicholas Fotiou, sometimes referred to as “Dr. Death” or “Dracula.” He lives in the apartment above the shop, which he’s owned since the late ’50s. There are never any lights on in the shop except a single fluorescent light globe at the back, however, it is still open to customers.
You can go in and order a milkshake: vanilla or chocolate. You can also order tea. Mr. Fotiou will serve it to you with no small talk. He always wears a neat, white apron.
The interior of the store has a kind of Miss Havisham charm, Art Deco splendor turning to ruin. On the back wall, a sign reads: “Late suppers, steak, sandwiches, snack bar.” Once, the sign would have been lit in neon. Now, the lettering is burned-out black.
The building was originally constructed as a billiard room associated with a skating rink in 1912, and was refurbished and reopened in 1939 as a milk bar attached to the Olympia Picture Theatre (later known as The Olympia De-Lux). The building’s shop fit-out from 1939 is the last physical evidence of the cinema that remains.
Such is its interest to the community that the Olympia has had cameos in at least one novel and been the subject of a radio documentary, several artworks, and two songs. Nicholas Fotiou, however, is a private man and does not speak to anyone about his life or why he continues to operate his business in such an odd way. And so, the rumors persist and the Olympia remains shrouded in mystery.
Update 2019: The Olympia has been forced to close by the Inner West Council after the front part of the ceiling collapsed.
Know Before You Go
Take any bus that goes down Parramatta Road and get off at Johnston Street.