It’s an exclamation I’ve heard more than once following a discussion about how tough times are for the food trade, how customers are spending less but wanting more, “…but bloody Koi! How do they do it?”
Winner of the Savour Restaurant & Catering Award for Best Contemporary Dining in Australia, named one of the GC Bulletin’s Top 10 restaurants in 2013, it’s not only critical acclaim that Koi’s gleaning, but also customers. While some other restaurants are struggling or even getting swept away in the Coast’s ‘post GFC’ penny pinching, Koi’s pumping! So how do they do it?
Revamped and reborn in 2013, we stopped by to ask Steve, one of the managers, to help us put a finger on some of the secrets to Koi’s success. Here’s our take:
Location, Location, Location! Wrapped around one of the most prominent corners in Broadbeach, Koi’s street front alfresco dining beckons to passing pedestrians, “Come on in!” Close enough to beach, shops and nightlife, there are no barriers to entry, no stairs up or down, no glass doors or partitions. What you see is what you get. Its openness shows off the meals, bar and service from the street: see the cocktails, check out the meals as they’re served and feel the vibe.
Atmosphere. Despite its open layout, Koi emanates warmth from wood, leather and brandished metal. European earthy and inviting by day, elegant and sultry by night, there’s an unspoken invitation for patrons to hunker down and have a good time. Sunday afternoons are legendary, a band in full swing, and partygoers out to finish off their weekends in style before the working week begins. Party central, Koi is where the action is.
Menu. With four Executive Chefs, all bases are covered, and everyone is catered for. The menu’s huge, divided into clear sections (Plates to Share, Sandwiches and Burgers, Pasta, From the Sea, From the Farm, Steaks). Using high quality fresh produce, meals are of a consistently high standard. Asian and Mediterranean influences are evident in the menu. Many dishes are char-grilled, with plenty for Paleo diners, such as the Big Brekkie, a carnivore’s delight with not a green veg in sight! Picky diners? Order off the menu and the chefs will try to please, we’re told. Don’t equate ‘casual’ with ‘cheap’, though. This is a classy venue in a top location and priced accordingly. While the price of some mains is close to fine dining levels, this is the ultimate venue for the modern ‘noncommittal’ diner. Make the most of the menu by choosing meals in a variety of sizes to share, alongside your drinks. And talking about cocktails, they’re some of the best on the Coast!
Service. Steve’s a great believer in the ‘customer is king’ philosophy. “Each and every customer pays my wages,” he says. Staff, (all with a minimum 3 – 5 years’ experience), are chosen for their professionalism. Overseeing them is the ever-diligent Floor Manager who greets regulars by name, ushering them to their favourite table, while overlooking details of the food service. We’ve always enjoyed prompt and informed service at Koi. “If something needs doing, I want my staff to do it right away. Not later; do it now! Everyone on staff must have the same attitude,” he says.
Availability. Open early and shutting late (7am – late daily), Koi carries appeal for a wide demographic. Breakfast, cocktails, dessert and coffee, dinner, tapas, lunch…or just plain socialising, chances are that if you’re awake, Koi is too! It’s a tourist and local standby where you know what you’ll get.
Adaptability. Steve tells us that it’s not about keeping up with the trends, but staying ahead of them that’s important.“Food culture is very competitive. If we feel that things are a little flat, we work out what we can change, how we can revitalise the place. A quick reno or a new cocktails menu can give a whole new feel. We never underestimate the public – they’re really educated, so everything needs to be top standard. Success is about staying ahead of the curve every step of the way.”
Participation. “Business owners are participants in popular culture,” Steve tells me. “Management are always on the floor. Not only that, but every staff member participates. They’re always switched on, ready to go. It’s the personal touch that counts – greeting clients by name, knowing their favourite dish. Yes, we get plenty of tourists here, but it’s the return business of locals that brings in money when times are lean.”
PR. Turn on the music, attract the crowds, then continue the socialising virally via photos and comments on Facebook and other social media. You have to be in this scene to be ‘shot’, and savvy to be ‘known’. Even a little controversy doesn’t hurt…
“So, is it true that you seat the ‘lookers’ on the outside seats?” I ask Steve.
“Yes, but only because that’s where they ask to sit,” he laughs.
Let’s be honest – there is a fair bit of voyeurism about Koi. It’s the ultimate crowd gazing venue, a place to see and to be seen, the hottest Sunday session in town, making it the playground and watering hole of the ‘bold and beautiful’ 20-somethings; legendary for energetic patrons who become an entertainment in themselves!
Owners Patrik & Danielle Gennari are seasoned restaurateurs, co-owning the more upmarket Glass at Marina Mirage. But it seems that in Koi, they’ve nailed the factors which make a true Gold Coast casual restaurant. Are others jealous? Maybe, but I’m reminded of the saying:
“Envy, among other ingredients, has a mixture of the love of justice in it.
We are more jealous of undeserved rather than deserved good fortune.”
— William Hazlitt, British writer and philosopher
A key player in Broadbeach dining, Koi’s success is far from accidental!
Cnr Surf Pde & Albert Ave., Broadbeach Ph: 07 5570 3060 Open daily 7am – late.