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Business - May 2017

06 May 2017

Business - May 2017 Image

Asian fusion thriving in Docklands

Having owned six different restaurants in the past 30 years, Charles Ng said his best experience was owning Merchant Society in Docklands.

When he first came to Australia from Singapore in 1988, Mr Ng opened his first Malaysian restaurant in Melbourne’s eastern suburb Surrey Hills. From there he moved on to open a Japanese sushi train mixed with Chinese yum cha in Perth.

But he said Docklands was his favourite location.

His Asian-fusion restaurant on Merchant St opened two years ago and quickly gained support and trust from the local residents and workers.

“People here in Docklands have shown us a lot of support and we have many regulars at Merchant Society. There is always good vibe here,” Mr Ng said.

Mr Ng knows a lot of the regulars by name and has become good friends with some of them. He says maintaining a connection with the Docklands community is an important component of his thriving business and his social life.

“Docklands has unique demographics. Many of the high-rise apartments are vacant and the long-term residents travel a lot,” he said.

“But the residents, who have come across so many different cuisines on their travels, still come here and have lunch or dinner because they really like the food here.”

Mr Ng said opening an Asian restaurant in Docklands could be “hit-or-miss” due to the “unique demographics” of our suburb, but luckily Merchant Society has became a local favourite.

“There are a lot of corporate workers who come here and have lunch during the week. Lunchtime is the busiest for us,” he said.

In fact, Merchant Society gets so busy that there are seven chefs working at lunchtime.

But Mr Ng stressed that, no matter how busy it got, all the food must be prepared freshly and made to order.

“We do not want to turn the restaurant into a food court, where people can get their food very quickly but everything is the same. We are proud of the freshness of our dishes. That’s why we have such a good following,” he said.

Merchant Society has a strong Malaysian focus, with the Rendang and Laksa being the chef’s specials. But Mr Ng said every single dish on the menu, from Nasi Goreng to green curry, had equal popularity.

The menu has remained relatively unchanged for the past two years and Mr Ng said the food had suited Docklanders’ taste buds very well.

“Docklands has become a really trendy place and people here are really open to different types of cuisines,” Mr Ng said. “The locals love Asian food and they also like a mixture of everything.”

Merchant Society is also a licensed to serve wine and beer, making it even more popular among corporate workers and residents who like to grab some drinks with friends after work.

Mr Ng can often be seen chatting and mingling with the customers and he always makes sure people are satisfied with the food and service at Merchant Society.

“I really appreciate the bond I’ve formed with the local community. Merchant Society has become my ideal friendly restaurant that is liked by the people here,” he said.

Mr Ng is opening a new Asian-fusion restaurant, Roti Bar, on Little Collins St soon.


New colour, but same family

Yarra’s Edge residents will have noticed the formerly bright-red Lucas Real Estate office has recently changed colour and name.

But father and son team, Glen and Baden Lucas, want locals to know that they are more than still involved.

Glen told Docklands News that his business had joined up with developer Mirvac to create a statewide new business called RES (standing for real estate services) by Mirvac.

The new entity is a full service property real estate management and sale business. And it’s not just confined to Yarra’s Edge. Mr Lucas said RES by Mirvac was operating at all Mirvac development locations throughout Victoria, including East Melbourne, Doncaster and Wantirna.

“RES by Mirvac takes care of everything after settlement,” Mr Lucas said.

“It is an exclusive Mirvac client agent handling all their past, present and future developments.”

He said Lucas Real Estate had worked so closely with Mirvac over the past 12 years that the partnership was a natural progression.

“There’s a lot of mutual respect between our organisations and our values have been aligned,” Mr Lucas said.

He said he and Baden had over many years fed local conditions and data into Mirvac’s ongoing Yarra’s Edge development decisions.

“This local knowledge has been a big help when planning their next buildings,” Mr Lucas said.

The family’s knowledge of Mirvac’s operation made the partnership easier.

Baden’s first full-time job in real estate was with Mirvac. Prior to that, he had helped his dad selling real estate in Docklands as a 15-year-old.

Glen said Lucas Real Estate was still trading under its original brand in NewQuay and was facing a very positive future with large numbers of apartments to manage in the Aqui and Promenade developments, as well as 466 apartments coming on stream in the new Marina Tower.

“We’ve got seven new team members, an awesome culture and we’re growing every day,” he said. “The future is very bright.”


Personal training that comes to you

The team at Just In Time Personal Training is bringing its tailored mobile personal training services to residents and workers of Docklands.

Operating since 2012, the business has quickly established its credentials as the leading provider of mobile training services in other parts of the inner city, particularly in neighbouring Southbank.

The business is now extending its outreach to the Docklands community and managing director Justin Moran said the service was perfect for the area’s time-poor residents and workers.

“There is such a market for people using these apartment building gyms. They often get poor guidance or no guidance at all there so there is an opportunity for people in the Docklands to take up our mobile service,” he said.

“Maximising time is big in peoples’ lives now. So, instead of having to take 15 minutes to wander down to a gym somewhere else we come to you. We’re also minimising the chances of litigation and injury because we’re overseeing the way people behave and act in the gym.”

As well as offering a high quality and convenient service for the city’s high-rise residents, Just In Time also offers a customised workplace health program perfect for Docklands’ thriving business community.

Like its service for residents, Just In Time comes to your workplace. Better yet, its program is designed to maximise results for both trainers and clients alike through its individually tailored approach.

Rather than running large classes that take valuable time away from a working day, Justin said the program offered individual consultations designed to provide maximum benefit to workers.

“Workplace health is something that is too often labeled as a fitness class provided before, during or after hours and often at the expense of the trainer – but also that one hour is taken away from the day of the worker,” he said.

“What we offer is something a lot more dynamic and unique, and basically, a lot more effective,” he said. “Our programs are targeted at going in during work hours and actually talking to people individually about their issues.”

“If it’s about diet or weight loss or the designing of a program to get active we can individually work with them and find them at their level and get increased engagement.”

Having successfully run the program at a number of other large and small city-based companies, the Just In Time approach has been very well received for achieving positive health outcomes and ultimately boosting productivity.

It’s a testament to its philosophy of hiring only the best university qualified trainers who, according to Justin, can provide a level of service well beyond a certificate standard.

Led by Justin and assistant manager Daniel Piovesan (pictured), the growing team of five trainers is equipped to ensure the best plan for your health needs.

“90 per cent of the PT population have done a certificate three or four course, which is the bare minimum standard required to become a personal trainer in Melbourne. But we only employ 100 per cent university-qualified trainers,” he said.

“Daniel is the best personal trainer I’ve had in 20 years. The rest of my team is on the same path but there are five in my team that can come out in the morning through until 10 at night.”

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