Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Doughnuts and Classic Cafe.

At the bottom of Swanston Street in Melbourne was Classic Cafe, now McDonalds I think. It was Mother's favourite place to stop for tea on her way to or from the station. Mother wilts quickly without a frequent cup of tea. Like her mother, half drunk cups of tea can often be found around her house. I am afraid I am inclined to do the same, but with coffee. Classic Cafe co-incidently closed about the same time she stopped making shopping excursions to the city. I don't think there is a connection.
In earlier times nearby was a shop that sold doughnuts. Children tend to be fond of doughnuts and we were no exception. But the best part about the doughnuts was watching them being made by the machine in the window. I can't remember the name of the shop. I can also remember a doughnut making machine at Downyflake in Chadstone. Perhaps the city shop was Downyflake too.

At the top of the machine was a reservoir for the doughnut mix. With a plop, into the hot oil below a doughnut shape with a hole in it would fall. The doughnut moved along in the hot oil at some point something mechanical tipped the doughnut over, so it was nicely cooked both sides. Another device moved it onto conveyer chains and the excess oil dripped off. Once the doughnut reached the end of the conveyer chain, it dropped into a mixture of cinnamon and sugar and staff would then make sure both sides were covered and place them into a bag.

'Don't buy them yet Mum', we would ask. We always tried to wait until the doughnut tray with the cinnamon and sugar was empty so that we could see our own doughnuts being made, fresh and hot and oh so delicious.

Evidently Australians haven't taken too well to Krispy Kreme doughnuts as the company is under administration and half the stores have been closed. A friend used to bring us some from Sydney when the first store opened. I never had the heart to tell him I didn't like them.

An addition after most of this post was written, Mother says the above mentioned Classic Cafe was there from at least the early fifties, when she first starting going there, sometimes upstairs where it was a bit more formal, or downstairs for more casual. So that would have been around 30 years of operation for the Classic Cafe.


  1. Twas Downyflake Donut Restaurant next to Y & J pub in Swanston st, with the rhyme
    As you wander on through life, brother,
    Whatever be your goal,
    Keep your eye upon the donut,
    And not upon the hole.

  2. this post makes me want a doughnut now.

  3. Same doughnut machine was at Highpoint, and Downyflake sounds so familiar - it must have been the same chain of stores. LOVED watching that machine.
    RE: Krispy kreme. When my brother would visit Sydney for work, he would often come back with a novelty box of 12. Never really were a fave of mine either. Have to admit when a local (to my work) store opened, I didn't bother. Don't think i've ever bought one.

  4. I've never had a Krispy Kreme. The spelling offends me as much as the thought of the taste.

    I suppose I better try one just for the sake of it before the chain collapses here altogether.

  5. Krispy Kreme are not my favorites, had the in Chicago.

    Read also this: http://atomicspacejunk.com/mid-century-atomic-decor/mayflower-donuts-coffee-mug

    Don't let you fool by the word mayflower but read the article and look at the larger picture.

  6. Stop! I'm salivating ... Nothing like a REAL doughnut (NOT donut)from a REAL shop (not some international chain). Thanx for the memories ...

    Happy travels!!

  7. Thank you Peter for that great link.
    I saved a tray mat from Downyflake and had it laminated.
    I am sure I recall passing the shop when it was being renovated and seeing the SMASHED tiles which had those 2 optimist guys on them.
    very sad. IF they had left the place alone it would be a big draw today.

  8. Downyflake sounds like a posh name for dandruff!

  9. Anonymous11:44 pm

    When I was a young'un we used to have a stall at the Camberwell market every Sunday morning. After we'd set up shop, we'd head for the cinamon doughnut van for our breakfast. The doughnuts were always hot and delicious and I looked forward to them every week. V.

  10. Great work Jayne. I have never heard of the rhyme.

    I rather like doughnuts Ann, but I try to avoid them.

    Raelene, must have lasted longer than I thought as Highpoint certainly wasn't around when I was a kid. Funny how Australian's generally haven't really taken to them. Bit like a Big Mac compared to a greasy joe's hamburger perhaps. We already had a superior product.

    Victor, you would not want to go to your grave wondering. On your death bed, 'How I wish I tried a Krispy Kreme. Too late now'.

    Well, well Peter. What an interesting connection. Difficult to verify now.

    Red, now am I responsible for a sudden surge in doughnut consumption?

    Em Stacks, I reckon a doughnut machine in a window would go down a treat now. Sad that little of the place was saved, but at least you got a bit of it.

    Downy Fen. So it must be very fine dandruff.

    Didn't know you had a stall there V? We used to have an exotically flavoured hotdog followed by doughnuts. It is a couple of years since we have been to the market, but the same hotdog van was there.

  11. Anonymous2:23 pm

    Yeah, we used to sell odds and ends to get extra pocket money. A friend of my brothers (who had a car) and we 3 kids would go most weeks. Never had a hot dog though...V.

  12. Musta been fun for kids V. Tell me more about it when we next see you.

  13. Anonymous8:10 pm

    I remember discovering coffee scrolls with coffee icing at the Classic Cafe. Used to buy one on the way to the station (mid-1970s).

    1. I had half a coffee scroll yesterday and the remaining half today. I wonder when I had my first one.....mid eighties maybe.

    2. Anonymous4:14 pm

      I think I wrote the above comment (looks like me).
      I remember buying doughnuts at Chadstone too - I think we got them from a food 'truck' and they had jam in the middle. Do not remember them in town though. Tess

    3. Well Tess, watching the machine make them using a conveyer belt system was fascinating to us at both the place in Swanston Street and Chadstone.

  14. Anonymous4:17 pm

    My mother has always been one to wilt without a frequent cup of tea, and there would always be half-finished mugs of tea in the lounge or kitchen.
    Now I find I must have regular cups of tea too. Must be genetic!

    1. Tess, I have been known to have a couple of cups of coffee sitting around, usually cold. We become more like our parents as we age.

  15. Anonymous4:26 pm

    One other thing - the Classic Cafe appears in that film (On the Beach) with Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner. There's a scene where they are walking down Swanston Street towards the station, and you can see Portmans, Crofts grocer and the Classic. Then they stand outside Young & Jacksons, before she goes running across the road to the station. All very dramatic!

    Here's the link:

    1. Tess, that is a brilliant short clip. Loved it, thanks.