Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Sunday (Maroochydore, Australia)

Greek Aussies Carve out Niche; Dimitri and Aki Meet Athens' Upmarket Driving Service Demand with Yellow Mercs, as David Ellis Reports

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Sunday (Maroochydore, Australia)

Greek Aussies Carve out Niche; Dimitri and Aki Meet Athens' Upmarket Driving Service Demand with Yellow Mercs, as David Ellis Reports

Article excerpt

THE internet has certainly made it all rather wondrous -- the way we can now search out and book someone to meet us with a car at our plane and take us straight to our hotel, cruise ship or wherever in overseas places we've never visited before.

And it's all without the need for fighting with luggage to get aboard unfamiliar airport trains or buses, or to deal with questionable cowboy cabbies. Yet it can also at times be something of a minefield of communications misunderstandings, language mix-ups and, worse still, plain outright being taken for a ride -- but not the short ride we thought we had booked.

How nice, then, to hop off our plane in Athens just recently and to be met by two smartly dressed blokes with a cheery "G'day. Welcome to Athens", a couple of luxury E-class Mercedes cars kerbside to whiz the half-dozen of us to our hotel and for a city tour that afternoon, and to transfer us the next day to our cruise ship.

To our surprise, here were two true-blue dinkum Aussies -- Dimitri Karoutas, who was born and raised at Mosman in Sydney, and Aki Arvanitis, who originally hailed from Kew in Melbourne.

Both are the sons of Greek migrants to this country, and if there're a couple of "local lads done well", here you have them.

Dimitri's dad opened Johnnies Fruit Shop at Mosman in Sydney in 1965 (it's still there today, although under new owners), and Aki's dad had a Retravision furniture and electrical store in Prahran in Melbourne from the early 1970s well into the 1980s.

Over the years, Dimitri developed a successful transport business delivering supplies to Sydney restaurants and hotels, and Aki a chauffeur-drive operation ferrying, among others, local MPs and Melbourne TV station personalities.

And when they met through a mutual friend, they got to talking about something very odd that each had discovered from regular visits they'd taken to Athens over the years.

For although it had 3.75million people in its city and surrounding urban areas, Athens had just 31 licensed hire cars.

Surely, thought Dimitri and Aki, there must be demand for more than this from those wanting, and able to afford, an upmarket and personalised private transport service? …

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