For an update, scroll to bottom.

Paragon Cafe, Katoomba

In 1916 The Paragon Café  was established  at Katoomba in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales  by Greek immigrant Theo Simos and his family.  It became an enormous success, and far more than a café.  The art-deco interior still features  a  banquet room, and a ballroom.  Young men courted their sweethearts with the  Paragon’s boxes of hand made confectionary and society  brides ordered a wedding cake from the café  for their big day.

 

 

 

 

 

As the name suggests, there was nothing to rival the Paragon, although it was once almost destroyed by a runaway motor vehicle.

1924 – UNDER ASSAULT BY A BLACKHEATHEN BOLTER

Katoomba Daily Thursday 4 December 1924

Consternation was caused among the 40 persons quietly enjoying their coffee and cakes at the Paragon Café, Katoomba Street, about 10.30 on Tuesday night, when a motor car, belonging to Mr Milton G.M Beadman of Blackheath, ran amok and unannounced crashed into the northern window of the premises, creating great havoc.

It appears that the car had been left outside the Classic Fish store, and for some reason at present unknown began running backwards.

As it careered down the hill, which at this point is somewhat steep, it speedily gathered speed until without  warning it turned, mounted the footpath, and smashed into the handsome frontage of the Paragon, ruining three of the splendid plate glass windows and cracking beyond repair one panel of the adjoining windows.

In addition, much damage was done to the cake and sweet stands, but following the precedent established by Katoomba inhabitants no pilfering is to be recorded.

No pilfering?  Given the reputation of the cakes and chocolates at the Paragon,  the restraint of the public was  admirable

Paragon Cafe chocolate counter

The chocolates that  still  draw people from all over NSW and beyond.

To the credit of the Simos family everything was back on track in time for the Christmas trade. The Katoomba Daily  ran a feature on local shops on December 20.

THE PARAGON

Full preparations have been made by this firm for the Xmas trade in the cake and confectionary departments. Their cakes have already achieved universal distinction…..In the chocolate department they hold a wide range of handsomely boxed goods that when emptied of their contents make splendid and lasting handkerchief or oddment boxes. One of the nicest we noticed is priced at 50/-. It has two trays filled with the choicest chocolates and when emptied would prove a worthy ornament to any dressing-table or side-cabinet.

THE PARAGON FULLY RESTORED TO GLORY!

A write-up in The Farmer and Settler, October 27 1938 gives an idea of the Paragon at the height of its fame;

Decorated wedding cakes receive special attention. They have been made at The Paragon for many society weddings on the Blue Mountains and in other parts of Australia. At an exhibition in London, when  competitors included pastry cooks from all parts of the British Empire, Paragon took the prize for a quality mixture wedding cake. Numerous prizes have been won at exhibitions in Sydney’

Home-made biscuits are packed in decorated tins with mountain views, representing a souvenir that is as appetizing as it is unique. 

Dancers are lured by the ballroom, which has a spring floor of the latest type. Neon colored lights on the frieze tone with the miniature stage. Many hundreds of squares of gold mirrors, the excellent taste of Italian walnut glass topped tables, and the luxurious seating accommodation in Dunlopillo, combine to make the room a scene of comfort and beauty. Like its trade-mark  – the Orphan Rock -the Paragon stands alone. 

Paragon Cafe banquet room, Katooma

 A FAR GREATER THREAT

In 2018, high rent and the need for urgent repairs to the heritage listed building  meant that the final operator of the business did not  renew her lease. Sadly, the Paragon has closed. We can only hope that this much loved  cultural treasure  is able to rise like a mythical Greek phoenix and continue to delight us. The photo below was taken at a function I attended during  the last months of the Paragon.


Paragon Cafe Katoomba

The doors have now been closed for many months, and there is  a legal dispute over continued use of the name.  While I was taking the photo below, two elderly couples arrived and were shocked and disappointed to find the old place closed.  They had travelled a long way to Katoomba  hoping to revive happy memories of  visits to the Paragon in the 1960s.

Closed Paragon at Katoomba

So sad.

FEEL FREE TO LEAVE A COMMENT IN THE BOX BELOW.

UPDATE – JUNE 2019

Another chapter in the Paragon saga begins. Oh dear, this could be interesting. Robyn Parker, the final leasee of the Paragon, has just opened a new cafe in Katooma called The New Paragon.

It’s located further up the hill on the other side of the street in the old Blue Mountains Gazette premises. It appears that when Robyn took over the Paragon lease she purchased the chocolate making business and the right to use that name on confectionary.

New Paragon Cafe
BACK IN BUSINESS (Photo – Blue Mountains Gazette)

How this will work out if the old Paragon re-opens in competition I have no idea. My heart is still with the old place, but I do understand what a difficult position Robyn Parker found herself in.

New  Paragon Cafe in Katooma
OLD FAVORITES AT THE NEW PARAGON (Photo – Blue Mountains Gazette)
2 Comments
  1. THE PARAGON IS IN CRISIS – Please help to protect the Paragon by signing petitions and please take a look at the work that Friends of The Paragon have achieved to date. There is also a meeting next Wednesday night at The Carrington – in the Library, commencing at 6pm.

    The Paragon is an iconic restaurant in Katoomba NSW. It is one of the last remaining, finest, and most intact examples of the great, inter-war, regional restaurants.

    The current lessee has announced intentions to leave the property in May 2018 and to remove or sell off much of the contents. Including a great many items from the earliest times of The Paragon, the contents are an important part of cultural heritage, documenting much of the history of the restaurant and confectionery business founded in 1916 by a young immigrant from Kythera. Collectively, the contents show the important part The Paragon played in the community, and the development of Australian cuisine and cafe culture.

    The collection must not be allowed to be dispersed

    Friends of The Paragon Inc., believe that the collection should be preserved and retained, intact, within the community and be accessible to the community and the many visitors to the region.

    In a further alarming development, the lessee has sought to register the original trade marks of The Paragon Katoomba as the intellectual property of a private Trust based in Sydney. If this attempt is successful, it could see “The Paragon Katoomba” brand confectionery neither made at The Paragon nor in Katoomba!

    The petition on CHANGE: https://www.change.org/p/cr-mark-greenhill-oam-mayor-blue-mountains-city-council-protect-the-paragon
    Firends of The Paragon: https://www.facebook.com/friendsoftheparagonkatoomba/

Leave a Reply

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.