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Business in Docklands - May 2011

03 May 2011

A great Docklands story

The opening last month of Bob’s Steak and Chop House in Bourke St is a great Docklands story.

International entrepreneurs Sanjay Chimnani and Shine Dighe looked at Melbourne, Sydney and Singapore as the location for the first Bob’s outside of the USA and settled on Docklands.

The couple owns the licence for Australia, New Zealands and Singapore and researched deeply the best location for their first fine dining establishment. But nowhere else offered as much as Docklands.

Sanjay explained that they were looking for a location which would give them 70 per cent business clientele and 30 per cent local residential.  They were close to settling on a location in the CBD, but the city doesn’t
have the same quality residential population as Docklands.

Similarly, Southbank and South Wharf didn’t have the same magical mix as Docklands.  And, while Docklands has many restaurants, it had nothing of the quality that Bob’s now brings to the market.

“There was no real dining experience for the business population. There are no suits at NewQuay,” Sanjay said.

Sanjay says it is often difficult for local people to see opportunities which are apparent to outsiders.

When the couple moved to Docklands two years ago, Sanjay could see a similar pattern of economic growth that he witnessed first-hand in both Hyderabad and Dubai.

Sanjay cut his business teeth in the challenging nightclub market in India and is used to doing business on a grand scale.

“Local people often don’t see the opportunities that present themselves.  You really need fresh eyes to be able to see clearly,” Sanjay said.

“People have told us that we are mad opening in Docklands. But we are totally unperturbed that there is no one else here.   We see it as an opportunity that we have got this market to ourselves.”

“It will be hard work for the first six months but, at that point, we will be 18 months ahead of the game.”

Sanjay and Shine simply love living in an apartment above Harbour Town.  After their initial stint in Docklands they started looking further afield at Brighton and Camberwell.

But when it came down to it, they couldn’t stand the thought of living anywhere else and so moved to a bigger Docklands apartment.

“It’s so convenient and so charming here,” Shine said.  “Sanjay points to our view of the boats in the harbour every morning and says ‘this is a painting’.”

“This is truly the neighbourhood we want to live in,” she said.  “It is so full of life and there is so much happening here.”


A simple name for great food

Former engineer Natdanai Chungyingruangroong’s (Nat) passion for food and dining was just a pastime.

Until last year when a burning desire to start a business of his own led to the opening of his first restaurant, Nine Elephants.

Nat, his cousin Chavapon Theppadungporn and chef mate Tanachat Satitchantrakul opened Nine Elephants in October – and their mutual enthusiasm for food is clearly evident in the restaurant.

“Food is the most important thing,” Nat said, stressing that, at Nine Elephants: “The emphasis is on the food and presentation.”

For Nat, presentation is a big part of the dining experience. “We want people to know we care about the food,” he said.

Nat also believes that the Thai food at Nine Elephants is among some of the most authentic on offer in Melbourne, saying: “If you can’t find the ingredients in Thailand, we won’t use them.”

Although they hadn’t first thought of Docklands as the site for the restaurant, upon some investigation it became the obvious choice.

“We didn’t want to go far from the CBD, and our real estate agent suggested Docklands,” Nat said. “I believe it’s going to continue to grow.”

He also said the mix of workers for the lunch period and residents for dinner appealed to them.

Nine Elephants is open for lunch and dinner Monday to Friday as well as dinner on Saturday and with happy hour (three beers for the price of two) and specials advertised on its Facebook page ( there are plenty of good reasons to stop in.

Lunch specials start from $12.90, while dinner starts from $16.90, plus they deliver in Docklands. So if you too are passionate about food, there really is no excuse not to get down to Nine Elephants and try it out.


Look at me, look at my Trikeman Billboard

For Alan “Trike Man” Maxwell, his small, part-time hobby has become one of Docklands most unique, vibrant and innovative businesses.

His Tours on Trike business started in 2007 and has steadily grown to the point where Alan sensed a new opportunity, noting: “The ‘look-at-me’ factor of the trikes made such a big impact.”

The result of much research and thought is Alan’s brand new business venture – Trike Man Billboards.

Having billboards displayed on trailers and driven around town is a relatively new form of advertising, and it is obvious that the Oztrikes are the perfect vehicle for such a medium.

Knowing he had to achieve the right balance between the trikes and billboards, Alan had Oztrike custom-build the trailers to ensure that they really complement each other.

“The trikes are the attention grabber, but the advertising billboards go really well with them. They certainly don’t get lost,” he said.

Alan is passionate about Docklands and, as such, really hopes local businesses are among the first to take advantage of his new idea, saying: “It’s open to everyone. We can structure campaigns for any-sized business.”

“We can target specific events. We go to where the people go, and can take your company’s product or message with us,” Alan said.

As Trike Man Billboards manager Sasha Soveny puts it: “What a good way for other businesses to take advantage of the attention-grabbing trikes!”

If you want your business to benefit from the clever thinking people at Trike Man Billboards make sure you contact them on 9600 4522.

And don’t forget they are still running tours all over Melbourne and its stunning surrounds. For more info on tours or to book, call 96706930.


This won't stay a secret for long

Carrie Fong grew up in her mother’s Chinese restaurant at Eastland so, for her, opening and running her own restaurant Meehub here in Docklands was a natural progression.

After working in her mother’s restaurant for years, Carrie had a break, but in February she got back into the hospitality industry, opening Meehub in Waterview Walk, Batman’s Hill.

All of that experience has helped Carrie understand how to run a successful restaurant. She found that her mother’s restaurant East Dynasty was far too big – on some nights catering for 200 people.

“It is much easier to focus on my customers here,” she said.

Meehub is a wonderful little eatery, which is unlikely to stay a secret much longer. The focus here is on its noodle dishes.

“Our research showed there wasn’t any noodle restaurants, just plenty of sushi,” Carrie noted. “That’s why we named the restaurant Meehub Noodle & Sushi Café, and not the other way around.”

The name Meehub, thought of by Carrie’s brother also points to the spotlight on noodles. Mee means noodle in Chinese, while hub is a meeting place.

Carrie is also beginning to introduce rice dishes to the menu, in an attempt to lure more customers in at dinner time. “We are busy in the afternoon, but quieter at night. The rice dishes are for the night-time diners,” she said.

The ever-expanding menu at Meehub includes plenty of authentic Asian dishes, featuring seafood, beef and chicken. They cater for those wanting sushi as well, with fresh sushi hand rolls starting from $2.30.

The large range of yummy noodle dishes start from $8.50.  So, no matter what time of the day, next time you have a craving for Asian food, make sure you stop in at Meehub.

For Carrie, offering great Asian cuisine at affordable prices has been on the cards ever since those years at her mother’s restaurant, but there’s no doubt where she’d rather be now, stating: “I prefer this one!”

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