Summer Hill's Rio milkbar opens as small bar

George Poulos with his son Nik in Summer Hill. George served his customers dressed in a suit and tie every day.
George Poulos with his son Nik in Summer Hill. George served his customers dressed in a suit and tie every day. Photo: Wolter Peeters

George Poulos made milkshakes at The Rio for 63 years before he died after his final shift in 2015, but now the Summer Hill milkbar has jumped head-long into the 21st century by serving its first legal drink as a small bar.

"I grew up in Summer Hill and the caramel malt milkshake at The Rio was my favourite. We've put a bootleggers punch on the menu as a nod. Apparently milkbars used to put a dash of rum in the bootlegger milkshakes," owner Tess Robens says.

Robens (the former owner of Corridor, in Newtown) has honoured the site's history by keeping the Rio name and salvaging everything she could from its aged interior. The food-leaning bar will also tip its pileus to Greece, with tiny moussaka serves, and grilled octopus.

The Rio faded a little when Summer Hill lost its cinema, but Robens remembers Poulos's charm and hospitality even while toiling to keep his business running.

"I want to honour George by creating a space that is a meeting place for the community. I've wanted to have a bar in this space for as long as I can remember," she says.

Open Wed-Thu 3pm-10pm, Fri-Sat noon-midnight, Sun noon-10pm.

126 Smith Street, Summer Hill, 0455 551 185