After 40 years of servicing the Greek and broader community with quality souvlakia, meats and many other products, George and the Anastopoulos family have made the difficult decision to sell the family business, Supreme Souvlakia, in Sydney’s Belmore.

The Anastopoulos family made a statement, thanking the community for its support spanning five decades, “After forty years, we would like to thank our customers and community for all their support and loyalty in its success. May God bless you and your families.

“In 1982, George made the astute observation there was a great need for pre-packed souvlakia and incredible vision to seize this opportunity to create a market for pre-packed souvlakia for both the Greek and broader community. Supreme Souvlakia’s pre-packed souvlakia would quickly become a game-changer in the market and this success inspired other butcheries to follow. Supreme Souvlakia’s success was based on hard work and high quality, and George Anastopoulos could not have achieved this without the great support of his wife, Sotiria, and their children, Phillip, Vicki, Gina, Aphrodite, Suzy and Dimitra, and their grandchildren.

“We are proudly handing over the business to another very successful family, the Glinellis family, who has 25 years’ experience in the meat and poultry industry.

“We will, however, continue producing primary products from the Anastopoulos family’s farms, servicing the market with products of the highest quality.”

“We would like to wish everyone, Christos Anesti and Chronia Polla to all the George and Georgias.”

How Supreme Souvlakia became an institution in the meat market

George migrated Kalavryta, Greece, to Sydney, Australia, in 1965; the following year, he married his fiancé, Sotiria, and, over the years they would have six children. Like so many migrants, George’s first jobs were in local factories; landing a job in “Sylvester’s Smallgoods”, Redfern, would change his life forever, as this was where he gained his first experiences in the meat industry.

After four years there, he found work at “Belmore Smallgoods” and worked there for four years. George also worked at “Olympic Delicatessen and Butchery” in Bankstown.

The end of an era. Photo: Vasilis Vasilas

Throughout these years, he gained invaluable experience and knowledge about the meat industry. His first business opportunity was surprisingly a takeaway shop on King Georges Road, Wiley Park. With his children growing up and having the foresight of establishing a business they could work in, he leased another shop – a few doors down from the takeaway shop – and established a butcher shop, which specialised in souvlakia (1984).

In the early 1980s, Greek households still used to make up their own souvlakia, so why would they buy ready-made ones? Astutely, George foresaw there was an untapped market for them, “For Greeks, souvlakia are such a popular dish. At the time, Greeks still bought legs of lamb, for instance, and cut it up to make their own souvlakia. But clubs and shops also wanted souvlakia, and they did not have the time to make up hundreds of them. I just thought, ‘If souvlakia are so popular, why not make and sell them?’ For us, this was our business; so we passed the meats onto the souvlaki sticks… all by hand, and sold them! And there was such a demand that our business really took off!”

Other butcher shops may have begun making up and selling souvlakia too, but it was “Supreme Souvlakia” that which took souvlakia into the mainstream Australian cuisines on a mass scale.

Whether it was sending samples all over New South Wales and media promotion, or the word of mouth about Supreme Souvlakia’s high quality souvlakia, business boomed and the wholesale part of the business was officially established when George set up a small factory to produce souvlakia in 1990, at the rear of premises he owned in Belmore. In 1994, the factory was expanded to include the shop and the business never looked back as it continued to grow.

However, there is so much more to Supreme Souvlakia than the bricks and mortar of the shop; beyond the shop window was decades of building a strong relationship with the community based on trust and reliability – people knew they could rely on Supreme Souvlakia whenever they needed their souvlakia, meats and other products – for any occasion. One indicator of this customer trust was evident from the long queues down Burwood Road, Belmore, on the Greek calendar’s big occasions – Easter, Christmas and New Year.

The impact and contribution of the Greek migrants to Australia’s post World War II era should be recognised and celebrated. The Anastopoulos family epitomises this with their successful integration of the Greek souvlaki into mainstream Australia.

Throughout the last forty years, the Greekness of the souvlaki was never compromised- with George giving non Greek customers “lessons” on the souvlaki’s origin.

George has a humorous anecdote about correcting customers who came into the shop and asked for kebabs, “I would ask them, ‘What is this kebab?’ and then teach them to call them ‘souvlakia'”. This may be a humorous anecdote but the underlying significance is how Greek shops and businesses, such as Supreme Souvlakia, impacted the Australian cuisine and Australian perceptions about foods, with the Greek souvlaki becoming part of the Australian story.