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wining & dining

They started working in family cafés as teenagers now

these foodiepreneurs have big ambitions of their own…

Giorgina Venzin,

26, has big plans for PawPaw Café which has been

buzzing behind Green Papaya on busy Stanley Street, Woolloongabba,

for three years. After recently selling Little PawPaw at Kedron (now Fuzzy

Duck) and Raw PawPaw at New Farm (now Little Loco), she’s investing

in a completely new fit-out at the Gabba flagship which will see PawPaw

become an all day and night-time venue (and the Green Papaya name

will be finally retired). The new space will have a breezy Bali/Byron Bay-

inspired summer holiday vibe which Venzin wants to bring to the inner

city, a reflection in some part of her own travels and the casual every day

fresh and healthy eating she enjoys.

The new menu will continue to serve up Asian-flavoured dishes for

breakfast, lunch and dinner but at night, in particular, the emphasis will

be on more casual dining, says Venzin. A bar will also be added at the back

for drinks and tapas-style dining.

Venzin (

pictured above

) is no stranger to reinvention. Her father, a

qualified mechanical engineer, changed direction in middle age to take up

Thai cooking. When he started making his own curry pastes, daughter

Giorgina helped him sell his products at markets and then helped out

washing dishes and waitressing at weekends when he opened his first Thai

restaurant, Mons Ban Sabai at Camp Hill.

Since then she’s shown she has the Midas touch when it comes to making

café’s pay. When the company took over a little shopfront in New Farm last

year Venzin gutted it, put in a very small kitchen and tripled the turnover in

a week, exactly as she had done with Little PawPaw the year before.

Venzin says she and her Dad are a great team. “We never fight. He’s my

best friend. I go to him with all my crazy ideas and he calms me down

when he has to,” she says with a laugh. As general manager she continues

to put in the hard yards, working from 8am until closing six days. “I try

to have Monday off and go to the beach. The rest of the time I’m on the

roster. I’ll be clearing plates, waitressing, talking to customers.” She also

takes care of admin, works with head chef Rory Doyle developing the

menu, manages social media and is constantly on the lookout for new

ideas that set them apart from their competition.

Recently she introduced the gluten-free, dairy-free, low-cal soft serve

ice cream-like CocoWhip to PawPaw. The frozen dessert is made with

coconut water and biofermented probiotics and PawPaw is the first café,

and so far the only one, in Brisbane, to stock it. “Dad was sceptical at first

and it was a huge investment to bring it in but it has boomed since we

have had it,” she says.

Venzin has also started to travel more widely on the hunt for inspiration

to bring back to Brisbane diners and to her dedicated team. Last year she

managed trips to Bali, Los Angeles and Melbourne.

Venzin believes her age and the close rapport it gives her with her staff

is a benefit for the group. “I’m not just the boss dictating what to do. I’m

very hands on and because I’m a similar age to most of my team we get on

well and that’s why I think they stay longer.

“We sold the other cafés because I was spending too much time

travelling between each of them. Now I can focus my attention here.”

Watch this space, Venzin already has feelers out for like-minded empire

builders to create a PawPaw franchise network.


awPaw café, corner Stanley Street and Potts Street, Woolloongabba.

Check open times on



| BNE May/June 2015