A very sad loss for Docklands

Docklands has lost its best restaurant with the closure of Bopha Devi after 13 years.

Owners Chan Uoy and Paul Thickett started the eatery in Rakaia Way, NewQuay, in 2005 and soon established an impeccable reputation. In a bygone era, when Docklands News used to rate restaurants, our “phantom diner” awarded Bopha Devi a perfect score of five stars.

Chan said Paul’s sudden death last year from cancer was a “wake up call” to start doing more with his life.

“It was a wake up call for me to change my life and do something different,” he said.  “I am going to have a one-to-two year sabbatical to write full-time.”

He also said he thought the business would grow faster than it did, considering the ongoing development of Docklands.

“I thought that the business would grow with the area as it developed,” he said.

“The media has been most unkind to Docklands and that negativity affects people like me who wanted to contribute towards a better and more diverse Melbourne.”

“It is irresponsible to forget about the people on the ground trying to make it work.”

“I always believed that Australia is a country where people are given a fair go and I don’t think that the people behind Docklands were given a fair go.”

“The people who live here love it, but that is ignored by the media.”

“Docklands will become a great place as so much change is happening at the moment, but I can’t do it any more.”

He said the introduction of food trucks had hurt the business as had the discontinuation of the eight-week winter fireworks program.

“Docklands is glorious when there are big events.  But changing the fireworks from the Bolte Bridge to the stadium viewpoint took away the beauty of the water,” he said.

The Bopha Devi concept was imported from Yarraville, where it had been operating successfully.

“We brought it to Docklands, a more central location, as some Melburnians don’t like crossing the bridge,” he said.

“I thought Victoria Harbour was beautiful and I wanted to be part of a 21st century Melbourne.”

“There was also no Cambodian restaurant in the City of Melbourne and I thought that Docklands would be a great place to introduce the cuisine and the culture to the broader community.”

Mr Uoy said the venue had been great for fundraising for disadvantaged Cambodians still recovering from the Khmer Rouge period.

“We have supported many orphanages and schools in Cambodia over the last 13 and a half years in Docklands,” he said.

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