Having moved from Pakistan four-and-a-half-years ago ambitious, young entrepreneur Usman Ghani has decided to bring a taste of his homeland to Docklands.

The 22-year-old has recently opened up a Pakistan eatery, Zaiqa, in NewQuay and hopes that he may one day franchise the business.

Having studied a diploma of hospitality management, Usman decided to open the business with his friend Zaffy after his dream to open an eatery came up in a casual conversation.

“We were just sitting around one day and I said that I wanted to open up a restaurant and he thought it was a good idea and so we just went from there,” Usman said.

Employing his best friend Waheed, also from Pakistan, as the head chef, the food haunt provides extremely authentic Pakistan food.

Usman said his love of food came from cooking with friends who taught each other what they knew and experimented with food.

His passion for food is clear to passers-by with the gorgeous aromatic smells filling the surrounding air and his welcoming smile for all who enter the shop.

Having opening up the shop only two months ago, Usman has already fallen in love with Docklands and its people.

“The suburb is beautiful. I believe it’s the next CBD. It’s right next to the city and growing faster and faster and the people here are really nice and friendly,” he said.

Open seven days a week, the restaurant provides a buffet-style lunch and a restaurant-style dinner.

“We wanted to provide something that would be great for a quick lunch, but could also be good for a nice dinner and we’ve achieved this with very reasonable prices,” he said.

With lunch starting from $6.90 and all main meals under $15, Zaiqa brings the taste of Pakistan to Docklands with a great price.


Dom Anthony has truckloads of energy and passion. And he’s going to need it if his dream of introducing a grungy tapas bar to Docklands is to succeed.

Dom is transplanting Melbourne’s laneway culture and feel to Docklands.  And this is not easy to do, considering that the CBD has evolved over nearly 200 years and Docklands is brand, spanking new.

So the enterprising NewQuay resident has been antique shopping and has spent up big on interesting furnishings and bits and pieces.

“It’s grunge.  It’s eclectic. It’s history.  It’s sport,” he said inside the space he is currently transforming in Docked.  “It’s the Vineyard or the Night Cat coming to Docklands.”

But while Dom is aiming for a rustic aesthetic, his venue has million-dollar views, perched on the Stadium Concourse overlooking Victoria Harbour to the west.

“It will be very, very Docklands and we certainly don’t want to change that,” he said.

Dom had the dream three years ago and has been working on the project since signing the lease last October.  He had hoped to be open by the new year but has suffered all manner of delays and setbacks. He now hopes to open next month.

“Initially I was crying but now I have to laugh,” he said.  “I’ve just had to grow another skin.”

One of Dom’s challenges will be letting people know where it is.

“I’m telling them to go to Gate 9 at Etihad and head on past the giant wine glass,” he said.  “It sounds weird, but I don’t know a better way to describe the location.”

Dom hopes that local residents will feel comfortable at Docked.

“It will be a place where you can go, sit down in a lovely old armchair and have a conversation without having to shout to be heard,” he said.  “It will be somewhere where an older crowd can mix.”

He said he was also planning wine and coffee tastings, jazz and acoustic Latin music, comedy and dance classes.

“I’m planning a happy hour every afternoon between 5.00 and 6.00pm when I will be serving free finger food,” he said.

Dom is passionate about community and loves what is happening here in Docklands.

“I’m a country boy but I feel right at home in Docklands,” he said. “I love what is happening here and where Docklands is heading.  And I love being part of it as a business owner and having a say in the direction it is taking.”

He said he hoped all Docklanders would adopt Docked as a home outside their apartments.

“It’s a hidden treasure, but it will be well and truly worth finding,” he said.


Having run Bistro Vito in Southgate for almost 20 years, Darren Quick decided to move downstream to Yarra’s Edge and he is already becoming popular with the locals.

The charming, but modest restaurateur has already got quite a long list of regulars from the Docklands community, but he is also bringing people into Docklands.

Darren said that when he moved he thought he would lose his regulars because, unfortunately, the common perception was that Docklands was out of the way, but he has been pleasantly surprised.

“I really thought people would find a new restaurant, but they have been venturing down and not just once, but three or four times and they’re now saying that they love Docklands and they didn’t realise it was so close,” Darren said.

Darren’s good nature reflects not only in the loyalty of his Southgate customers, but also in the loyalty of his employees.

“My staff have been fantastic. All my kitchen staff and some of my wait staff have come from Southgate and most took up casual work in the city while I sorted out what I wanted to do so that they could come back and work for me,” he said.

Darren decided to move to Docklands after 18 years in Southgate as he thought it was time for a change and was looking for a suburb with more community.

Darren said the first time he came to Docklands to look at his premises it was a cold and windy day, but he still spotted the potential and decided to go with his gut feeling.

“It’s a great suburb. Everyone is friendly and know each other and it’s beautiful. I had the most amazing view out of all the restaurants in Southgate, but this tops that view. I’m even considering moving here to live,” he said.

Darren’s warm heart and the restaurant’s French influence also extends to the many dogs of Docklands, with all dogs big and small welcome to sit outside with their owners on the waterfront and sip from the provided doggy bowl, while their owners enjoy a nice meal or drink.

French and European influence is present in much of the food and décor, with all time classics such as crème brulee appearing on the menu, as well as an extremely impressive cheese list.

“I love my wine and cheeses and so I really tried to incorporate this into the menu and, with our chef having done most of his traing in Europe, the food really has that strong influence,” Darren said.

With mains starting from $19.50, Darren hopes to provide a great meal that will have you continuously coming back for more.


LifeLab in Digital Harbour continues its evolution to a truly mixed-use development with a current series of conversions of 28 units from office to residential.

Selling agent Paul Lachal asks the question: “What do you get in Docklands for $385,000?”

In this case, the answer is a 40 sqm, one-bedroom apartment with a car space.  Furthermore, the developer is guaranteeing an 8 per cent return for the first two years.

This is possible because Docklands Private Collection is able to rent the investment as a serviced apartment, returning $160 per night.  Occupancy is currently running at 90 per cent and, unlike other areas of Docklands, serviced apartments are not an issue at LifeLab.

Mr Lachal thinks that the investment would suit someone looking for a “bolt hole” Melbourne base, at an affordable price.

“Use it when you want.  And when you are not using it, you just put it back into the pool for rent as a serviced apartment,” he said.

“No other location than Docklands offers such proximity to the football, the city and all that it offers. There’s only 28 of them and five have gone already.  So, from an investor’s point of view, they certainly offer the scarcity which ultimately increases their value,” Mr Lachal said.

“When you look at where Docklands is currently and the huge amounts of development now occurring, it’s a very compelling story.”

“And they exist here and now.  You can touch and feel these apartments and you don’t have to be worried about how they will turn out off the plan.”

LifeLab contains small businesses, small apartments and retail tenants. Its’s located next to a tram stop at 198 Harbour Eslanade.  The City Circle, 70 and 86 trams stop there.  It is only a short walk to Southern Cross Station.

Mr Lachal can be contacted on [email protected]  or 0418 368 091.



May 4th, 2022 - Abby Crawford
Join Our Facebook Group