There was genuine regret in the Gunnedah community with the death of Theo Fatseas on July 10, 1997 – Theo was part of the fabric of Gunnedah as proprietor of the Monterey Greek Café at 197 Conadilly Street, now the Thub Thim Thai restaurant.

Those who grew up in the fifties and sixties in Gunnedah remember Theo for his hard work and pleasant manner during his 30 years of business at the Monterey.

Theo made every customer who came through the door feel like they were the most important person he had served all day – his same warm smile greeted everyone.

Born on the Greek island of Kythera on October 26, 1934, to Emmanuel and Maria Fatseas, Theo migrated to Australia in 1950 through the sponsorship of a Greek restaurant owner. At the age of 15 he arrived in Australia with his father, who subsequently returned to Greece where he later died.

Theo worked in Chatswood and Crows Nest, Sydney, before moving to Moss Vale in the Southern Highlands and then to Coonabarabran in 1954.

He joined his uncle Theo Kalokerinos in the Monterey Cafe in 1957 where he later formed a partnership with fellow countryman, Nick Tzannes, who migrated to Australia in 1957 and settled at Gloucester before joining Theo Fatseas at the Monterey in 1967.

A legacy of the Monterey Cafe era is this sign which is still present inside the old Conadilly Street premises.

Theo Fatseas had a reputation as a man of high principles, an outstanding “people person” who thrived on providing excellent service to his many customers at the Monterey Cafe. The Monterey had earlier been operated by Nick Soucis and Theo Zaharias.

Theo Fatseas married Despina Londy in 1966 and they raised two children, Marea and Emmanuel. Four years later the family was joined by Theo’s widowed mother, who migrated from Greece in 1970 and came to live in Gunnedah.

As their children grew old enough to fly the nest, Theo and Despina Fatseas left their much-loved adopted town in 1986 and moved to Sydney where Theo developed new business interests, establishing a number of video rental outlets. He was later joined by his son and then by his daughter. He was vice-president of the Greek Orthodox parish in Kogarah.

This hard-working Greek immigrant who made Australia his home, died at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital at the age of 62 after years of declining health.

The Monterey Cafe at 197 Conadilly Street has had a number of tenants since the days of Theo Fatseas and Nick Tzannes but when it closed it was a sad reminder of a once-thriving Greek cafe and popular meeting place.

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