The End of an Era: An Ode to Olympic Doughnuts
Doughnut master and local legend Nick Tsiligiris has touched many a heart with his tasty treats. Since 1979, Tsiligiris’ charm and smile has graced the Footscray train station every day at Olympic Doughnuts, serving up fresh batches of his lauded delights from the cosy corner of his instantly-recognizable caravan. Armed with a robust personality and an iconic dolphin-shaped jam injector, “The Doughnut Man” is a respected figure of an adoring community and the subject of many fondly-remembered yarns.
Even when the train station underwent a major redevelopment, there was no stopping Tsiligiris’ passion for his craft, moving the shop from location to location to accommodate for the continuous expansion of the construction zone. A man of principle, he eventually expanded to a purpose-built shopfront on Irving St - but kept the tremendously reasonable 80-cent price tag for his doughnuts. Both his story and his status as a symbol of Footscray’s inclusive and diverse community was eventually
Both his story and his status as a symbol of Footscray’s inclusive and diverse community was eventually immortalised in short documentary Olympic Nick: A Donutumentary, which was shown to much acclaim as part of the 2016 Melbourne International Film Festival.
As tremendous as his legacy is, however, the era of Olympic Doughnuts has sadly come to a close. The shop had been temporarily closed since mid-2016 owing to Tsiligiris’ ill health, and after a long period of deliberation, the City of Maribyrnong shared news on Monday January 16 from Tsiligiris’ family that it would not be reopening.
The Olympic Doughnuts Facebook fan page has been alight ever since with delightful stories, kind thoughts and fond memories, wishing Tsiligiris all the best with his retirement.
The numerous tales from enthusiasts who grew up with the snacks as after-school treats have showcased the impact one person can have on the lives of others with a simple dream. Tsiligiris’ daughter Gina Hasapis shared her thanks for the love and support given to both her father and family over the years.
“We have been overwhelmed and at the same time so grateful and humbled by it all,” Hasapis mentioned on the Olympic Nick: A Donutumentary Facebook page. “It is wonderful and heartwarming to hear all the stories. Everyone of them unique and special."
Although the family has not sold the business (keeping the name and that all-important dolphin), they have decided not to “carry on”, out of respect for Tsiligiris’ lengthy legacy. The leasehold has been sold and soon another business shall operate from the hallowed kiosk. Hasapis have wished the new leaseholders “the very best”. Here's hoping the scent of powdered sugar stays for years to come.
Farewell, Olympic Doughnuts - an unmistakable icon of Melbourne and the creator of many joyous, delicious experiences. May Nick Tsiligiris enjoy a happy, healthy and relaxing retirement. With over 37 years of experience and service to the community, he’s definitely earned it.
BY JACOB COLLIVER