“Our mums are always picky,” says co-owner of Workshop Brothers, Joe La. Pickiness is one thing, but when your parents have extensive experience in the hospitality industry – as owners of bakeries, restaurants and catering companies – you’ve got a serious challenge on your hands. Right from the preview opening for family and friends, the pressure was on.
Workshop Brothers Glen Waverley is the fourth business for La and brothers Nolan and Brian Taing. The Asian-inspired all-day cafe and restaurant is a significantly different venture for the trio. Their CBD location only serves coffee and pastries, and the Glen Huntly Workshop operates as a modern Australian cafe. The Glen Waverley eatery, on the other hand, serves breakfast through to dinner, "offering a new level of sophistication to the area", says La.
The menu is a nostalgic and light-hearted tip of the hat to their heritage. “A lot of our recipes are from our parents,” La says. “We’re all of Chinese background so grew up eating Asian food.”
Crowd (and parental) favourites thus far include the Keep It 100; rice congee with caramelised pork belly and fried doughnut sticks, and the Sweet Hong Kong Waffle paired with a chocolate parfait and pumpkin caramel. “It’s ordered on almost every table,” says La.
There is also kimchi risotto and grilled barramundi for lunch, and a green duck curry or sticky star-anise-glazed lamb ribs for dinner.
The partners worked with Studio Esteta to ensure the space could easily transition from day to night. Circles, present in many old-style Chinese restaurants, are incorporated through plywood arches. The interior is covered floor to ceiling in blush-pink paint, lifted with sophisticated gold-fixture lighting to create a bright, lively space.
“The design celebrates playful clichés of retro-styled Asian restaurants coupled with our own memories of these places,” says director of Studio Esteta, Sarah Cosentino. “That includes plum accents and pink hues.”
Whether Glen Waverley takes to the new Workshop Brothers venue is yet to be seen. But the first, and arguably most important, battle has already been won. “All of our parents love the food and are extremely supportive,” says La, laughing. “So we know we’re doing something right.”
97 Kingsway, Glen Waverley
(03) 9078 6533