They’re an Aussie hospitality success story: in 2016, three mates in their twenties opened a Japanese-inspired salad bar in Bondi, and eight years later Fishbowl has grown to 45 stores nationwide, with a dream outlet in New York finally underway.

“Opening in New York legitimately feels like we’re starting all over again,” says Fishbowl’s co-founder Nic Pestalozzi. “It’s monumental, and a life-changing moment for myself and the brand … My focus at the moment is really just getting this one shop right and making sure we have customers. Like all good things, it’s a little scary and exciting, all at the same time.”

Fishbowl began as a healthy takeaway alternative in the beach suburb, offering poke bowl-style salads. Its founders, Pestalozzi, Nathan Dalah and Casper Ettelson, grew the brand’s offering to include more protein options, and Fishbowl is now considered a household name. But Fishbowl – which is opening its first international outpost in New York this month – won’t be known as Fishbowl in the US. It’ll be Thisbowl.

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“Opening on the other side of the world, with no customer base, under a completely new name – it’s a massive move. It’s motivating, exciting and nerve-racking,” says Pestalozzi. “But it’s something that we wouldn’t be in a position to do without all the [support in Australia] … Everything we’ve learnt is going into Thisbowl.”

Pestalozzi, who is in the US ahead of the new store opening, says the New York branch will have a simpler menu. “It will be similar but smaller. We won’t be launching with any boxes or as many options. Everything is new to New Yorkers, so we don’t want to overload them with choice. Everything has been slightly tweaked … But it’s very much a ‘less is more’ approach.”

Signature menu items will include sushi rice or brown rice with a variety of fresh vegetables and proteins, such as ginger-and-scallion-steamed chicken breast or sustainably sourced salmon baked in white miso. The brand is working with LA-based Australian chef Sophie Dalah (sister to co-founder Nathan) on the menu, which will be entirely gluten-free and customisable.

The new flagship store will open at 65 Bleecker Street in Noho on April 20. It was a location they found on a research trip last year, and the timings aligned with the landlord’s plans.

“It’s in the middle of Noho but just off the beaten path, so there’s an element of discovery, and it’s a fun hangout for the local community,” says Pestalozzi.

The team is working with LA-based designer Ben Willett on the interiors, which will have soft oak furnishings and lacquered timber banquettes; Brooklyn sound experts House Under Magic have built a custom sound system for the space; and it’ll feature art by Australian artist Marty Baptist and photography by the late Rennie Ellis.

Thisbowl is set to open on Saturday April 20 at 65 Bleecker Street, Noho, New York.

@thisbowl_nyc