December 2 - 8, 2018: Issue 386
REPIN’S IN “LADIES IN BLACK”
Ivan Repin - late 1930s.
In Bruce Beresford’s motion picture Ladies in Black - his adaptation of Madeleine St John’s novel The Women in Black - there is a brief scene in a coffee shop. The coffee shop, which is named in the novel, is identified in the movie as Repin’s by a menu on the table bearing a Repin’s logo and by the name on cups held by actors in the scene.
In preparing for this scene the producers sought advice whether any Repin’s premises still existed or whether another coffee shop might be a suitable setting to replicate Repin’s. The Paragon at Katoomba, although closed for business, remained undemolished and was used for the scene.
The name Repin’s will be remembered by middle-aged or older residents of Sydney, but probably means nothing to younger generations.
Repin's original Trade Mark - 1930s.
An early Repin's shopfront with coffee roasting machine in the window.
In 1959, the time in which the movie is set, the Repin’s Coffee Inns were a feature of the Central Business District of Sydney with Branches in George Street near Wynyard, Pitt Street near the GPO, King Street (three shops) and Market Street opposite David Jones. Goode’s the fictional Department Store of the novel, is obviously based on David Jones and scenes in the movie were shot for a day on the unrenovated seventh floor of the real David Jones, turning it into the ground floor of Goode’s.
Under awning sign outside each shop. Street photographer's picture of a mother and daughter in Market Street, City
The business was established by Ivan Repin, a refugee from the Soviet Union who arrived in Sydney with his family in 1925. As he could not use his Russian professional qualifications as a mining engineer in Australia he worked in various jobs including as a miner in the colliery at Balmain and driving buses and taxis. Things changed after he opened a small café with a very limited menu at the top of King Street opposite the Supreme Court. He served a good cup of coffee - unlike the atrocious coffee then generally available. His wife made uniforms and his daughters, when school permitted, served in the shop. Despite the economic depression the business was an immediate success. Ivan Repin developed a distinctive coffee blend –he called American Blend - which became very popular when served in the shops – so much so that a demand from customers wanting to buy it to brew coffee at home resulted in an expansion of the business into the retailing of coffee. A wide range of single origin coffees and distinctive blends was added to the retail offering of American Blend. By the start of World War II Repin’s had grown to seven branches.
Counter at Repin's 175 Pitt Street. Set up for retailing coffee in shop between Martin Place and King Street.
Ivan Repin died in 1949 but the business continued in the hands of his brother Peter and son George. After the end of World War II the latter embarked on a programme of renovations and modernisation including the establishment of the first modern espresso coffee lounge in Kings Cross, the “MoKa”, in 1955.
MoKa View looking into the shop.
However, with the extensive rebuilding of Sydney from the 1960s the rentals of premises on ground floor street frontages became too expensive for businesses such as Repin’s to survive. They and other well-established restaurant chains, such as Cahills and Sargents, also disappeared. City workers who previously brought sandwiches from home for their lunch or ate at the various café and restaurant chains now found food halls in the new commercial building developments to meet their needs – fast, relatively cheap food in an ever increasing variety.
A new era had arrived.
30 November, 2018
Previous Reflections by George Repin
The Nineteen Thirties Remembering Rowe Street The Sydney Push Saturday Night at the Movies Shooting Through Like A Bondi Tram A Stop On The Road To Canberra City Department Stores - Gone and Mostly Forgotten An Australian Icon - thanks to Billy Hughes Crossing The Pacific in the 1930s Hill End The Paragon at Katoomba Seafood In Sydney How Far From Sydney? Cockatoo Island Over The Years The Seagull at the Melbourne Festival in 1991 Busby's Bore The Trocadero In Sydney Cahill's restaurants Medical Pioneers in Australian Wine Making Pedal Power and the Royal Flying Doctor Service Pambula and the Charles Darwin Connection Gloucester and the Barrington Tops A Millenium Apart Have You Stopped to Look? Gulgong Il Porcellino Olympia Durham Hall Sargent's Tea Rooms Pie Shops and Street Photographers The Ballet Russes and Their Friends in Australia Hotels at Bondi Alma Ata Conference - 1978 Keukenhof - 1954 The Lands Department Building and Yellowblock Sandstone The Goroka Show - 1958 A Gem On The Quay Staffa The Matson Line and Keepsake Menus Kokeshi Dolls The Coal Mine At Balmain The Hyde Park Barracks The Changing Faces Of Sydney From Pounds and Pence to Dollars and Cents Nell Tritton and Alexander Kerensky Making A Difference In Ethiopia William Balmain J C Bendrodt and Princes Restaurant Azzalin Orlando Romano and Romano's Restaurant Waldheim Alcohol in Restaurants Before 1955 King Island Kelp The Mercury Theatre Around Angkor - 1963 Angkor Wat 1963 Costumes From the Ballets Russe Clifton at Kirribilli Chairman Mao's Personal Physician The Toby Tavern The MoKa at Kings Cross The Oceaographic Museum in Monaco The Island of Elba Russian Fairy Tale Plates Meteora Souda Bay War Cemetery Barrow, Alaska Cloisonné Tripitaka Koreana Minshuku The Third Man Photographs and Memories Not A Chagall! Did You Listen? Did You Ask? Napier (Ahuriri, Maori) New Zealand Borobudur Ggantija Temples Plumes and Pearlshells Murano University of Padua Ancient Puebloe Peoples - The Anasazi Pula The Gondolas of Venice Cinque Terre Visiting the Iban David The Living Desert Bryce Canyon National Park Aphrodisias The Divine Comedy Caodaism Sapa and local Hill People A Few Children Cappadocia Symi Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre Aboriginal Rock Art on Bigge Island ANZAC Cove (Ari Burnu) 25 April, 1997 Hotere Garden Oputae Children of the Trobriand Islands Page Park Market - Rabaul Rabual Kotor, Montenegro Galleries of Photographs I Lascaux Galleries of Photographs II The Cathedral of St. James – Šibenik, Croatia Ivan Meštrović - Sculptor Delphi Gallery of Photographs III The Handicrafts of Chiang Mai Raft Point San Simeon - "Hearst Castle" Floriade - The Netherlands - 1982 Russian New Year Mycenae "Flightseeing" Out Of Anchorage Alaska The White Pass and Yukon Route Totem Poles Tivkin Cemetery Krka National Park - Croatia Tavistock Square and the BMA Orthodox Easter Wieliczka Salt Mine A Walk on Santorini Indonesian Snapshots Ephesus - The Library of Celsus Ephesus - Some Places Of Interest Waimea Canyon and the Kalalau Valley United Nations Headquarters 1958 A Miscellany of Flower Images Gardens Bath St. David's In Wales Zion National Park Nicholas Himona - Artist Kraków Lilianfels Collonges-La-Rouge Gingerbread Houses Cape Sounion Delos Wroclaw Colonial Williamsburg Gruyères Strasbourg Coventry Cathedral The Roman Theatre at Aspendos Turkish Carpets The Duomo of Orvieto Rovinj The City Walls of Dubrovnik Monaco - Snapshots Bonifacio, Corsica Autumn in New England USA The Great Ocean Road Pompeii Didyma Lawrence Hargrave 1850-1915 The Corinth Canal Malta Snapshots of Amsterdam Café Central - Vienna The Forbidden City - Beijing, China A Ride on the Jungfrau Railway - 1954 Snapshots in the Highlands of Scotland 1954 Must See Sights in Paris - 1954 Corfu Reflections On the Nineteen Thirties The Gold Souk in Dubai Stromboli Ha Long Bay - Vietnam Lake Argyle The Bungle Bungle Range Langgi Inlet, W.A. White Cliffs, NSW - 1990 Sturt National Park - May, 1990 A Few Statues and Water Spouts The Dodecanese Archipelago Rhodes Lindos The Church on Spilled Blood - 2005 Monument to the Heroic Defenders of Leningrad
Copyright George Repin 2018. All Rights Reserved.