Cafeideas at Belly Bao

Growing up, Sylvia Tran witnessed her family’s hard work and determination in the restaurant business. As an adult, she studied finance but her creativity and passion for food ultimately won out and now she is the proud owner of Belly Bao, Newtown’s home of the Baoger (bao/burger hybrid), the world’s only bao noodles and an array of other scrumptious casual dishes featuring Asian-inspired flavours.

The challenge

Though she was raised amidst ‘the restaurant business’, Sylvia’s comprehension of the finer details behind the scenes left her feeling a little out of her depth when it came to fitting out Belly Bao. With expert guidance from Damien at Cafeideas, she was able to open the eatery within her budget and with a sense of confidence and pride that has spurred her forwards to create some of Sydney’s most innovative Asian dishes.

What problems had you experienced?

Sylvia had worried that she wouldn’t know what kitchen equipment to select for Belly Bao. A Google search for ‘catering equipment’ led her to Cafeideas’ website and not long after, she dropped by the Chippendale showroom where she was met by Damien. “He was so helpful,” Sylvia says. “I told him what I needed and he told me the best brands I should buy that would do what I needed but which would fit within my budget.”

Expecting to be shown products out of her price range, Sylvia was pleasantly surprised to find that what she needed was more affordable than she’d anticipated. “I felt like Damien really wanted to help us and not just sell us on the higher margin products. He was very genuine in his approach and I really appreciated that.” Over ensuing visits to Cafeideas, Sylvia was also assisted by Vibha who, she says, was equally helpful and accommodating of the budget.

How Cafeideas helped

Not being familiar with the various brands of kitchen equipment available, Sylvia was forced to rely on Cafeideas to be transparent and honest in their recommendations. Additionally, as a self-confessed ‘hospitality newbie’, she had expected to face lots of difficulties in knowing exactly what to buy. “I really leaned on Damien to point me in the right direction. Aside from knowing which products to buy, I had to learn very quickly about gas fixtures, dimensions and other specifications. Thankfully, Damien is an absolute expert so he really relieved the burden on me,” Sylvia explains.

Timing was also an issue. “When you’re opening a new restaurant, time is money,” she says. “You need to open as quickly as you can. Damien was very on the ball and he connected me with the right products and specs, always getting back to me straight away. This saved me a huge amount of time and it was seamless from beginning to end.”

Prior to opening Belly Bao, Sylvia had considered making the furnishings by hand. However, once she began dealing with Cafeideas, she realised life could be much simpler if she purchased the table tops and legs from them too. “They always give us a really good discount, so we went with ready-made and it turned out a much better solution.”

Follow-up, communication and problem management

When Belly Bao’s ice machine arrived, it was meant to supply a particular shape of ice. Discovering that it didn’t, Sylvia got onto Damien who arranged for a replacement the very next day. Also, an under counter fridge that Sylvia had purchased a year and half prior for a previous location had broken down. “I emailed Damien, he replied straight away and it was repaired almost immediately. You just don’t experience that kind of service everywhere,” Sylvia smiles.

Recommending Cafeideas

In the past, Sylvia had purchased “a few odd things here and there” from other suppliers but found that working with Cafeideas was a far better solution all-round. “Nothing’s ever as good as at Cafeideas; the prices, the expertise, the genuine service they provide. I would never hesitate to recommend Cafeideas because they have everything you could need, brands you can trust and Damien always tells you ‘why’ you need a particular item, not just which item you should buy.”