A new BITO to open across the harbour
When a government department shifts to a new building the local economy suffers and so do the employees who have to find a new source of coffee.
In March the Australian Border Force (ABF) moved from their home at 1010 La Trobe St across the water to Bourke St.
For local café BITO, just around the corner from their old office, it represented a big drop in business.
“We lost a third of our customers overnight,” café owner Brian Tung said.
Brian took a leap and secured a lease in ABF’s new building at 808 Bourke St, a move that will liven up the waterfront.
“I was so lucky,” he said. “I saw a for lease sign in the window and acted.”
He estimated there were around 1000 Border Force employees plus other public servants in the building.
The area is a hive of activity and many already know the BITO brand.
“I love their coffee,” one ABF employee told Docklands News. “The coffee around here is inconsistent.”
She might work in law enforcement but she’s a resident of Brunswick and a connoisseur of good coffee and niche places.
“The trouble around here is that the cafes are all generic. BITO is niche,” she said.
A good story needs to be told and there aren’t that many businesses that have a profile before they even open the door.
Brian considers himself a coffee expert. He set up a coffee roasting business 10 years ago and he was in the top 10 in latte art in the 2019 Australian competitions.
“Everyone said ‘don’t open a café in Docklands’,” he said, but Brian fell in love with the setting at Digital Harbour. He loves the water which reminds him of Taiwan.
“This was just an office three years ago. The windows were dark, and people couldn’t see in.”
At its peak last year, BITO had 400 customers a day, staff knew all of their orders and the queue was long.
“Some customers came in two or three times,” Brian said. “The staff knew everyone. The customer service was good. That’s the secret.”
His second BITO, with a prime waterfront position facing north, will open at the end of May with free coffees and bring some life to a section of the waterfront that has been empty for several years. •
Caption: Brian Tung taking his coffee to Bourke St.