Home' In The City : Summer Contents Ground Level, Centrepoint
Canberra City ACT 2601
P. 6247 2057
F. 6247 2365
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Summer in the City
In the space of just one hour, a steady flow of
people stop to greet popular businessman,
Emmanuel Notaras, as he sips coffee outside
Tosolini's is a tenant of the Notaras' family. They own
the Bailey's building in which it is situated, as well as
the neighbouring Saraton building.
"We have a practice of supporting our tenants," Mr
"The difference with us is that we've been behind
the counter of a shop, we know what it's like to stand
behind the counter of a shop when no-one is coming
in and you're wondering about how you're going to pay
off your equipment."
Mr Notaras' Greek parents arrived in Canberra in the
1930s and are now recognised as pioneers of the city.
"We are really from a retailing background.
Margaret Thatcher used to like to say that she was a
shopkeeper's daughter. Well, I'm a shopkeeper's son,"
Mr Notaras says, smiling.
At 63, Mr Notaras still holds his parents in particularly
high esteem and says they were "very well liked and
respected" in the community.
"Together they were a good combination to give us
the good start that we got.
"I wouldn't have been successful in business if it
weren't for that mercantile background and the start
my parents gave me."
Mr Notaras began his career in the Commonwealth
Attorney General's Department before moving on to
establish, with school mate Arthur Laing, what was
to become Canberra's first integrated entertainment,
promotion and recording company.
"Arthur's band was getting a lot of requests for work,
but it could only be in one place at a time.
"He had the idea to start an agency for bands and
he started that with his wife. Then I got involved
because we started to bring bands in from Sydney
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the company
brought bands and entertainers such as Skyhooks,
Little River Band, Leo Sayer and Chuck Berry to
In the late 70s, after 10 years of operation, Mr Notaras
says the disco era took hold and the company began
to wind down.
"That was at the time of Saturday Night Fever and
The Bee Gees and a lot of venues found it more
economical to just have a DJ, which they could operate
As a result, Mr Notaras left the entertainment industry
to become more actively involved in the family's
property business, the focus of which had begun to
swing towards the city.
"With that involvement the wider business issues that
concerned the city really came into our focus and in
1998 we set up the City Heart Business Association, of
which I'm still president."
Mr Notaras said the initial aim of City Heart was
to create a business improvement district, similar to
Canberra CBD Limited.
"In the earlier stages we weren't sure what could
happen but we kept lobbying the government.
"It turned out that City Heart didn't mutate into CBD
Limited, which was the way I saw it might happen, but
in a sense that's a good thing."
Mr Notaras says he envisages City Heart as being "a
mouth for the wider business community that are not
property owners in the city".
Members of City Heart do not have to be business
owners, and they have recently introduced a social
membership, which does not cost anything.
"CBD Limited is confined to property owners, but City
Heart can be a voice for those who can't get onto the
"I'm quite proud of what City Heart has achieved, we
have raised more than $300,000 for charity in the past
As a strong advocate for the city who is "a long way
from retirement", Mr Notaras says he would like to
remain active in Canberra CBD Limited and City Heart
for as long as possible.
"If the city's economy is strong it adds to the liveability
of the city. If the CBD is liveable, they'll look to stay
here, to work here and Canberra will grow."
A shopkeeper's son,
Emmanuel Notaras is proud
to be part of a growing city
BY NAOMI FALLON
the past ten
Photographer: Holly Treadaway
Emmanuel Notaras at Tossolini's Restaurant, Bailey's Corner, Civic.
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