...two Italian-Australian waiters who bonded in Melbourne's upmarket restaurant industry of the early 1980s.
Archive photography: too many people to thank!
Brunswick Street in Fitzroy, minutes north of the CBD, was a largely boarded-up bohemian quarter. In both respects, Marios would be at the forefront of a revolutionary transformation.
One that would occupy an accessible middle ground in style and content: quality inexpensive meals for a new generation of casual diners.
Starched white tablecloths and smartly dressed waiters were offset by muted jazz, second-hand furniture and simple, classic, inexpensive dishes, with the aim of dramatically lifting the experience of budget dining.
Like its hours, 7am to 11pm, the convenience was initially geared to the less orthodox lifestyles of artists, musicians, agents, promoters, actors and shift-working cab drivers and nurses.
Deliberately unlicensed in its early years, the cafe's clientele nonetheless quickly expanded to welcome an unlimited cross-section of Melbourne diners. Beginning with the bookshop next door and gradually encompassing several thriving blocks, the rest of Fitzroy began to revolve around the cafe's singular vision and presence.
Its staff, many of whom have now served for decades, eschew the obsequious air of formal dining in favour of attentive and effective service. Loyalty, respect and professionalism are key.
You won't get skim milk, decaf or anything less than the genuine article.
...in 1988 Marios opened its walls to emerging artists on a rotating monthly basis, free of gallery fees and percentages.
That all-day breakfast has slowly expanded. The lunch and dinner menu evolves bi-monthly. In 1990, the cafe became a licensed premises with a wine list selected to reflect the fundamental balance of accessibility and quality.
Countless other businesses come and go yet Melbourne revolves around the laidback, egalitarian ideals that Marios has always epitomised.
Traditional Italian cuisine with a distinctive Melbourne touch has underpinned the menu for 25 years, and Mario Maccarone and Mario De Pasquale still greet customers on the floor.
At Marios it's first come, first served.