Trains and tagliatelle

Model trains and deli fare seem like an unusual combo... But at George and Areti Lagoudis’ little Sunninghill store, called A Portas / The Shunting Yard, it’s all business as usual. They stock a range of yum Italian and Greek delicacies AND must haves for model train enthusiasts.

You just know the place has to have a cool story.

George’s great uncle Athahasious Portas opened A Portas deli at 13B Pritchard street in 1896 back when Joburg was still just a mining town. So it’s actually one of only a few pioneering Jozi businesses that are still going. Plus it’s run by the original family. And here’s something else that may be interesting: Athahasious initially worked with Luigi Fatti who would become part of Fatti’s and Moni’s, known locally for their pasta.

In the 1970s, George, who had taken over the business by then, realised that with the bigger food retailers starting to offer similar products, they needed to “diversify”. With his passion for model trains, what form the “diversification” needed to take was obvious to George. So the deli also became a model train shop and the name, The Shunting Yard was added to the sign board.

Over the years, the store has changed locations: it moved from Pritchard to Kerk Street in town, then to Rosebank and a few years ago to Sunninghill.

For me the best thing about A Portas / The Shunting Yard isn’t the deli or the trains though; it’s George and Areti. While we were there, people popped in to say hello or just came to have coffee with them. George was telling us cool stories about the store. He didn’t even know about the blog at that stage.

He’s a firm believer that we should keep playing in life – no matter our age. According to George, Julius Caesar’s famous words should actually have been: I came, I saw, I played. I just love that!

Go say hi! A Portas / The Shunting Yard is in the Sunninghill Village Centre, corner Maxwell drive and Edison crescent in Sunninghill. Their contact details are here.

The store – the one side is dedicated to the model trains and the other side to the deli.

Olive rolls with ham and cheese! There were also various pasta dishes on the hand-written menu. Areti teaches Greek and Italian cooking too.

This was the first train George bought with his own pocket money. His very first train, which he got when he was three (he is 73 now), is also on display in the shop.

George and Areti. In an article on their website, George was asked whether he loves the deli or trains more. His answer: he loves his wife the best. Good answer!

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