I could talk about how wonderful and fresh the food at Daylesford’s Frangos & Frangos restaurant is – even George Calombaris stops in from time to time to eat its signature omelette dish. But the real story lies with its owner and creator, Jim Frangos.
A fine arts student who was conscripted in the Vietnam War, Frangos arrived in Daylesford in the 1970s and over the past thirty years has transformed the original Belvedere Hotel into a corner cafe restaurant, boutique and Endota spa.
“I was the head of the Art Department at Melbourne University but I couldn’t go back after the war,” he says.
“I was going ’round the bloody twist… they just bring you back and let you loose. One Sunday I came to Daylesford – around the time when the gas pipe line came in. All the American and Jewish guys working on it were getting $40,000 American dollars – 10 times what my salary was. So I bought the hotel and with three to four blokes to a room, I had the hotel paid off in 12 months!”
After travelling overseas as an artist and opening several restaurants, Frangos returned to the pub in the early 90s and opened an all-day corner cafe, which he named after his daughter – who he nicknamed, Koukla.
Today Koukla, with its buzzy, cafe feel and wood-fired pizza, is to up-market Frangos&Frangos what Calombaris’s Hellenic Republic is to Press Club.
Like Frangos&Frangos, his adjacent boutique, Endota Spa’s building, and his new hotel upstairs, Frangos designed, built, and fitted Koukla with his bare hands.
“I went back to Greece and measured my Grandmother’s old wood oven, and made it exactly to scale, perfect,” he reminisces.
Frangos’ creativity is reflected throughout Frangos&Frangos, most notably by a set of bronze hands that sit on the restaurant’s glass doors.
These reflect his philosophy: harmony and perfection.
His boutique contains a selection of high fashion items that he has designed, as well as a unique and chic collection of home-wears, jewellery, and gifts that he has carefully sourced from across the globe.
Frangos’ next scheme is a rather racy boutique hotel due to open next month.
Each room has been furnished with eccentric pieces that he has collected from his travels, and behind each door is a delightfully different surprise.
For example one room has a 70s feel with coat pegs and circular furniture from the era, whilst another is a boudoir room decked with French antique furniture and period style chandeliers and overhead mirrors that overlook the grande, fur covered bed below.
Complete with a convenient, function friendly, Mediterranean courtyard (The Agora), Frangos&Frangos is a venue of distinction.