A simple philosophy around cuisine and service has seen new Victoria Harbour restaurant Banoi become very popular very quickly, writes Kiloran Hiscock.
The team at Vietnamese restaurant Banoi in Victoria Harbour seems to be out to dispel the old adage that too many cooks spoil the broth (or pho, in this case!). With five owners who all bring a different quality to the running of the business, the restaurant is already full and buzzing most lunchtimes, despite only opening a couple of months ago. Locals have been won over by the simple formula of fresh, cheap and healthy meals delivered swiftly, as well as the lively atmosphere and friendly staff.
According to part-owner Brock Legudi, Banoi began when he and friends Tam Nguyen and Michael Nham were looking to open a restaurant together somewhere in the Melbourne CBD. Simultaneously, their mates John Lang and Viet Nguyen were trying to find a location for their new business. After some discussion it was decided that the five would join forces and open a business together in Victoria Harbour, largely because it is a “growing area with a lot of residents”. The diversity of the owners’ backgrounds has clearly played a large role in the restaurant’s success – Viet Nguyen is an architect, and designed the interior; Nham comes from a hospitality background and is the head chef; Lang looks after accounting; and Tam Nguyen takes care of promotions and marketing. Legudi worked in carpentry prior to opening Banoi, and is responsible for the interior fitout, which is created entirely from recycled timber and reflects the restaurant’s positioning under Forté, the tallest residential timber building in the world.
Vietnamese was the natural choice for the cuisine, with all owners bar Legudi being of Vietnamese background. “It’s a healthy cuisine, it’s quick and cheap,” Legudi says. Produce is sourced daily from the markets and the menu consists of traditional Vietnamese fare including rice paper rolls, pho and vermicelli noodles. Banoi’s most popular dish is a lunch special containing spring rolls, Wagyu beef pho and banh mi, which draws in a hungry crowd of local workers every lunchtime without fail. The formula is clearly successful. “We’ve gone past expectations with how busy we are,” says Legudi. Although Legudi is new to the industry, he has a strong day-to-day presence working on the floor, and is enjoying the customer interaction as well as learning from his colleagues. “You need to know your business, that’s why I wanted to work in here. You can’t just set it up and walk away.” If the satisfied smiles of Banoi’s customers are anything to go by, the hard work is paying off.
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