Mr. Good Guy / 173 Macquarie Street, Hobart TAS 7000 / Ph: 03 6289 8516 / $$ / Open daily 6.30am – 10 pm. / https://www.mrgoodguy.com.au
Andy Third and Mr. Good Guy do the unthinkable…
The hospitality industry is tough. We know that, but it can be really tough on hoteliers as well. You’re talking competition from Air BnB, huge land, building and staffing investment, and rising customer expectations. Mr. Good Guy at the new Ibis Styles, is a case in point.
Traditionally, hotel restaurants have had a bad rap. It was something hoteliers had to do to provide breakfast and food for guests who (rarely) chose to eat in. And yes, guests do want to get out and explore the city – try the local haunts. Mix with the natives.
Ian Johnson, a friend who’s a clever commercial architect, summed up what hospitality architecture has to be based on in one word: efficiency. And I guess he means not only in the design, but in meeting and exceeding customers’ needs and wants.
“The logo for Mr. Good Guy, a sort of crazy Asian take on Tin Tin, smiles beneficently over the proceedings, and we get down to business. What’s the plan, Stan? Er, Andy?”
And what do customers want? They want great décor, atmosphere, good service, good food and to not have a heart attack at the bill. And something different. Not much to ask, is it? Talking with Andy Third, the new executive chef and heading the kitchen at Mr. Good Guy, was interesting. I was surprised to hear that he’s a local. Clever Ibis.
He tells me the whole premise of this very modern Asian restaurant was to be a place that just happens to be in a hotel. And I think it succeeds. The theming and branding is strong. They’ve remembered to include the ceilings in the décor, and the use of colourful parasols is inspired.
The logo, a sort of crazy Asian take on Tin Tin, smiles beneficently over the proceedings, and we get down to business. What’s the plan, Stan? Er, Andy?…
“We do a buffet breakfast, as a nod to the hotel guests, but that’s got an Asian focus as well, with congee and crepes among other things. Lunch is a target for the businesses in the area, and for that we’re looking at a less than $20 line with speed of service. Dinner is built around sharing smaller plates.
We hit the ground running, really, but there was a huge amount of thought and planning that went into the concept. Modern South East Asian really fits with me. Why? I fell into the industry when I did a gap year in pastry, to help pay my way through uni in New Zealand. I went on to study Commerce and Psychology, which bored me, but philosophy and theology I loved. Go figure.
I headed to Sydney, working at the Marlborough Hotel, and then instead of the usual chef’s trip to Europe, I went backpacking through South East Asia and loved it. Thailand and Laos were high points for me, and I stayed with a Thai family of a chef I’d worked with in Sydney. It was an eye opener, and I fell in love with the food.
Back in Oz, I met my wife when I was working in the Blue Mountains, we moved to Adelaide where I became executive chef at the Stamford Plaza, but I so missed being on the tools. We came to Hobart and I took over the West End Pumphouse, giving that an Asian feel, and while South East Asian is definitely my fun zone, I felt there was a big gap here, so when Mr Good Guy came up, I jumped.
It’s a delicate balance, though. Being authentic yet modern at the same time. And fusion food is something the world always has had.
It’s not new. Fusion was tomatoes and potatoes being introduced to Europe from South America! We’re doing a wallaby curry now, and in a couple of hundred years, things will be seen as traditional that haven’t happened yet.
What I love most about this cuisine, is it’s all about the flavours. Mr Good Guy can handle all of that and more.
How do I run recruitment? Ha, well, I try to hire by personality and life experience. Not a resume. That’s becoming a thing of the past isn’t it? A person with a good attitude can learn anything. I love the fact that Rene Redzepi from NOMA blurs the barrier between Front of House and Back of House. I saw that first hand in Sydney and it was fantastic.
We’re working hard on being responsive to the public as well – building in events and promotions, possibly a Yum Cha, group banquet options, something on a Monday night when most venues are shut. The sky’s the limit, really.
And Ibis Styles, though part of the Accor group, are really focused on food and beverage. It’s the way forward, and I love being a part of that. Complacency? Forget it! Those days are gone.”
And with that, so was Andy. He’s a busy man, planning but still on the tools – that’s been for him, impossible to give up. Is a new South East Asian restaurant sustainable in our tiny, crowded microcosm? Only time will tell. But Mr. Good Guy has had a very good start.