Stanley Nicholas Garland was born Stratis Nicolas Galanis on the Greek island of Kíthira on 25 January 1892, the son of Nicolas Galanis, a farmer, and his wife, Maria Theodoropoulos. After attending the local high school he left in 1904 for Australia with his parents, who entered business in the tough and often violent Queensland sugarcane town of Maryborough. Garland’s knobbled wrists bore the marks of broken bones suffered during this period: in his later career as a Wellington restaurateur, they would serve as a mute warning to drunken and potentially belligerent patrons. During his years in Queensland, Garland played rugby and showed talent as an elocutionist, competing successfully in a number of eisteddfods.
In 1925 he returned to Greece and on 25 July the following year, in Athens, he married Chrisoula Tjoutjouri, a farmer’s daughter. The couple went to Australia in 1927 and later that year came to New Zealand, settling in Wellington, where they lived the rest of their lives. Garland opened a café in Cuba Street, but the depression of the early 1930s proved disastrous: ‘I lost everything I possessed after working from the age of 11’, he later recalled.
However, friends came to his assistance, and with capital of £150 he opened Garland’s Restaurant in Featherston Street, opposite the Chief Post Office. There were only a few restaurants in Wellington during the 1930s: the main eating establishments were hotels, tea rooms and pie carts. Garland later owned two other restaurants in central Wellington – in Lambton Quay and Manners Street. The latter offered three-course meals for just 1s. 3d. Soup, roast lamb, beef and pork, vegetables and an English-style steamed pudding were typical fare, and often there was a queue of prospective patrons down the stairs and part-way along Manners Street.
Locating his restaurants on the first floor was a deliberate policy, to discourage customers arriving drunk in the days when the hotels closed at six o’clock. Yet Garland also believed that if people were able to make it up the stairs, they should not be turned away. Regulars somewhat the worse for drink would be ushered into the kitchen to eat away from the public gaze.
Garland took on his Anglicised name with such diligence that he had small garland-like circles of flowers engraved on his English china. Once he was established as a successful restaurateur, he sent back considerable funds to Greece to help construct a reliable water system on Kíthira. Although he and his wife became naturalised New Zealanders in 1935, he felt that the hearts of Greeks of their generation would ‘always remain in Greece’. The Garlands returned to Greece on extended visits in 1955 and 1963.
Garland always identified closely with the Greek community of New Zealand. In 1938 he was appointed deputy consul general for Greece, becoming acting consul general following T. E. Y. Seddon’s retirement in 1960, and honorary consul general in 1964. The Greek government awarded him the Silver Cross of the Royal Order of the Phoenix in 1951 and the Gold Cross in 1958. Always prominent in the affairs of the Greek Orthodox church, he received the church’s Grand Cross of the Order of the Orthodox Crusaders of the Patriarchy of Jerusalem in 1926.
Stanley Garland retired from business in 1960. His restaurants were sold: the last, in Manners Street, closed in the early 1980s. He died in Wellington on 15 November 1964, survived by his wife, three daughters and two sons. A daughter had died in 1943.