Ref: Auckland Weekly News, US troops in Queen Street, 1942, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 7-A14390.
“Time plus money plus a growing sense of fatalism meant that it was always time for a night out,”
wrote Perrin Rowland in Dining out: A history of the restaurant in New Zealand. “The visitors’ gregariousness and blatant pleasure seeking encouraged their hosts to relax certain social rigours.” Hence grill rooms and other businesses started opening on Sundays, too. The grill rooms bore exotic names such as The Golden Gate, The Silver Grill and The Royal Café. They served sausages, chops or steak, battered or crumbed fish, oysters, eggs. Everything came with chips, a plate of white buttered bread, and a garnish of shredded lettuce and tomato finished off with a blob of mayonnaise. Tables had cruets holding salt and pepper, bottles of Worcestershire sauce, tomato sauce and vinegar; and meals ended with milky coffee made with essence.
Ref: Auckland City Council, City Grill in the Palmerston Buildings, 1933-38?, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 580-313.
Potatoes were scarce over Christmas and New Year holidays and the price of other vegetables skyrocketed. One grill room proprietor who normally used up to one ton of potatoes a week said he had been unable to serve potatoes for three days (New Zealand Herald, 2 January 1942). However, the same article said grill rooms, “providing a comparatively specialised and limited menu, are reported to have been more profitable than those business serving three-course meals.”
Ref: Auckland City Council, Street frontage of 326-332 Queen Street with Sunshine Fish and Grill Rooms, 1939-1941, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 580-779.
Ref: New Zealand Ephemera - Advertisement in Waitemata Amateur Swimming Club pamphlet, Fifth Carnival, Season 1923-24, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries.
Ref: Fish shop, Otahuhu, c1939, photograph reproduced courtesy of Otahuhu Historical Society, South Auckland Research Centre, Auckland Libraries, Footprints 03772.
To find out more about the Dalmatian community in New Zealand head over to NZ On Screen and watch the documentary Dalmatian at heart.
- Stephen A. Jelicich / From distant villages: the lives and times of Croatian settlers in New Zealand, 1858-1959 (2008)
- Perrin Rowland / Dining out: A history of the restaurant in New Zealand (2010)
- Andrew D. Trlin / Now respected, once despised: Yugoslavs in New Zealand (1979)
- New Zealand Memories, Issue 81, December/January 2010
- Wise’s Auckland Provincial Directory, 1944
Update (28/9/15): The West Auckland Research Centre has recently collaborated with the Dalmatian Genealogical and Historical Society to help digitise materials and thus increase access to the history of Dalmatian migrants to New Zealand. To browse this collection go to Local History Online and perform a keyword search for ‘Dalmatian’.
Author: Leanne, Central Auckland Research Centre