Milk bar

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Milk bar is a term in some parts of Australia for suburban local shops or general stores. They are known as tuck shops, delicatessens or delis in South Australia and Western Australia, and as corner stores in Queensland and New South Wales. Milk bars are traditionally a place where people pick up milk and newspapers, and where school children purchase milkshakes or lollies.



The first businesses using the name "milk bar" were franchises opened by Burt Brothers in 1934. The concept soon spread to the United Kingdom, where it was encouraged by the Temperance Society as a morally acceptable alternative to the pub, and over 1,000 milk bars had opened nationally by the end of 1936. Milk bars were known in the United States at least as early as 1940 as evidenced by contemporary radio recordings.

By the late 1940s, milk bars had evolved to include not only groceries, but also became places where young people could buy ready-made food, non-alcoholic drinks and socialise. Milk bars often used to include jukeboxes, pinball machines – later upgraded to video games, with tables and chairs to encourage patrons to linger and spend more money.

The milk bar as a social venue was gradually replaced by fast food franchises, such as McDonald's, and shopping malls. Much of the elaborate decor has disappeared from the remaining milk bars. They are still found in many areas, often serving as convenience stores.

Modern era

Milk bars in Australia today almost universally stock ice creams, sweets, chocolate bars, soft drinks, newspapers, bread and occasionally fast food. Some also serve milkshakes. Although there are far fewer milk bars than there were during the 1970s and 80s due to changing shopping habits, most people living in suburban areas still have a milk bar within walking distance or a short drive of their home.

In the United Kingdom, the National Milk Bar franchise is an ordinary café / restaurant chain which is related to the original milk bars in name only.[1] Most of these are found in Wales and near the Welsh border in England. In the UK, corner shops serve a similar function to milk bars in modern Australia, providing everyday groceries, sweets, newspapers and such.

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