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John Mangos and
The Excel Cafe


John Mangos, a pharmacist's assistant, arrived in Australia in 1926 from the tiny Greek island of Kastellorizo. A few years later, in 1928, he married Evangelia Christofis who had arrived from the same Greek island several years earlier. Their first child, Con, was born the following year.

John Mangos was better known to his friends as 'Pitsikas'. In the early 1930's John went to work with his brother Arthur who owned a cafe in South Melbourne. He later went into partnership with another brother, Mick, also well-known in Melbourne's Kazzy society and together they opened "The Oriental" cafe in the suburb of Windsor.

In 1940 John decided to venture out on his own and opened the "Excel" cafe in Elizabeth St Melbourne, close to the heart of the city. 

The years of WW II were hectic and the Excel cafe was very busy catering to the many British and American servicemen that flooded the city. By this time John and Evangelia had 4 children, Con, Mary, Peter and Chrissie. Their three older children were attending school, but due to work commitments the parents could not give the baby Chrissie the proper care and attention that her young age demanded.

At the age of two, Chrissie was put in the foster-care of her Godparents (Lazaros and Krissie Atherinos) in Adelaide, where she remained for the duration of the war. After the war her parents brought her back to Melbourne to begin her schooling.

John's eldest son Con completed a course in junior education and taught for a number of years at the Ascot Vale primary school before joining his father in the family restaurant. Mary enrolled in a dressmaking course for a short while before she also returned to the family business.

Peter went to work with his father soon after leaving high school. He remained in the business until it was sold, except for a short break when he had to do his National Service. Peter was a record collector. He had an amazing collection of 45 rpm vinyl records (numbered in the hundreds) and an awesome knowledge of the artists and songs to go with it. His ambition, if he didn't stay on in the family business, was to become a radio disk-jockey.

Chrissie, the youngest of the family, graduated from Penleigh Presbyterian Ladies College where she was a popular house-captain, prefect and editor of the school's magazine. She went on to attend the Emily McPherson College for five years where she earned her Diploma of Needlecraft. She also enjoyed a number of years as a fashion designer for "Alyssia" gowns.  During this time Chrissie also studied piano and music theory earning several degrees in both from the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music. In the evenings and weekends Chrissie would join her parents at the busy restaurant, eager to assist in everything from cooking to counter service. 

Con married Melbourne girl Dorothy (nee Zervos) and Peter married Sevasti (nee Lucas) from Perth. 
'Sevy' passed away unexpectedly in tragic circumstances, leaving Peter to look after their three young children with the help of his mother. 

Both of John's daughters married in Sydney, Mary to a cafe owner
and Chrissie to an Electronic Engineer (Steve Zervos), proprietor of a TV and Electrical sales and service business.

Chrissie helped her husband in his Electronics business for several years until he decided to branch  out into the nascent field of computer technology. Chrissie stayed home to care for their three young children until they had reached school age. She later became involved in the pastry business after volunteering to stand in for a friend who had taken several months long service leave. A year later she was persuaded to return to the pastry business  and eventually became manager of the "Denelle Marie" patisserie.

John's grandchildren have found careers in a variety of fields including computers, electronics, academia, corporate management, education, media and catering.  

John worked hard to make the business the success it became. He was always willing to help out friends and relatives and was an active member of the Kastellorizian and Greek Orthodox Church communities of Melbourne. He owned property in Windsor and Ascot Vale and made several nostalgic visits to the island of his birth, but he never had any intentions of returning there permanently to retire.

Tragedy struck in 1961 when the "Excel" cafe was damaged in a fire while John was in hospital recovering from an eye operation. A few months later, as luck would have it, the property immediately adjacent to the damaged Excel went up for auction and John was the successful bidder. The "New Excel" was launched in early 1962, only a few months after John's youngest daughter Chrissie married Steve and went to live in Sydney.

Due to incrementing health problems, John and Evangelia reluctantly retired in the early 70's, handing over the business to their sons Con and Peter who, with the help of Con's wife Dorothy and their eager son Kevin, kept the "New Excel" cafe running until 1976 when they decided to lease it out.

John Mangos passed away in 1978 after a short illness and Evangelia passed away in 1992.
The business and property were eventually sold in 2003 and both sons are now retired.


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