wining & dining
They started working in family cafés as teenagers now
these foodiepreneurs have big ambitions of their own…
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.
) 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 onwww.facebook.com/pawpawcafe
| BNE May/June 2015