One of the perks of living in Bayside is the amount of great cafes and restaurants we have to choose from. There’s always a new brunch spot, bar or tapas restaurant to try and this year will be no exception!
Local restaurateur, Phil Stubbs, is opening yet another local eatery, buying his new space from Aitken Real Estate late last year. Phil plans to turn the rundown shop into a lavish, Asian style restaurant in the coming months.
Phil began his career in the food industry when he swapped his police badge for an apron, buying into a dim sim manufacturing business called Mr Dimmy in 1993. Wanting to be his own boss, Phil eventually opened the first Café Blah Blah in Modialloc in 1998.
With no idea how to actually cook noodles, Phil had a quick lesson and was then ready to open what would become a hugely popular restaurant.
“I thought I was going to get three or four days training, but we went shopping one afternoon and we cooked up beef, chicken, satay, tom yum, chilli and that was it. About a week later we opened and it was sink or swim because I really didn’t know what I was doing,” Phil said.
“I remember one of the first bowls of noodles I made, the woman said to me ‘that’s the worst bowl of noodles I’ve ever had.’ I tasted it and I agreed with her, so then I cooked her up another one.”
Phil has come a long way since first learning to make noodles, having opened a Cheltenham café in 2001, which he still runs, and Brighton in 2005.
The inspiration behind Phil’s newest project, ‘Madam Viet,’ is his love for
Vietnam, including the flavoursome food and French influence.
The menu will feature smaller portions for tapas style dining along with wines from the French region and Vietnamese style drinks.
Not wanting to renovate for landlords, Phil decided to buy his own space instead, finding the Charman Road property at the right price and location.
“I’ve been on this idea for probably five years because there’s just no really good, funky, fun Vietnamese restaurants around,” Phil said.
Phil was concerned with the location’s proximity to Café Blah Blah, also on Charman Road (near the station), admitting there will be some downturn on the café, but Phil is confident it will balance out in the long term.
“It’ll probably give me the option later on of selling one of them, which would probably be Café Blah Blah at some stage, but we’ll wait and see,” Phil said.
With experience renovating his other restaurants, a full home reno and two bathrooms, Phil plans to complete the renovation himself with the help of a few tradie friends.
The interior of Madam Viet will reflect the name and will take inspiration from the French architecture in Vietnam, creating a more opulent style, including pressed metal ceilings.
With all systems go on the renovation front, Phil is still facing council and local issues, including Bayside’s Council’s objection to Phil’s proposed 46 person capacity because of traffic concerns. The building also shares a common wall with two residential properties. Despite Phil’s building being located within a commercial zone (zone 1), residents disapproved of the
restaurant because of noise, traffic and exhaust fans at the back. Phil is confident these issues can all be resolved in the coming weeks and is hoping to open Madam Viet to the public in six months (of course fitting in another holiday to Vietnam before opening day!).
We are thrilled to have helped Phil buy his new restaurant and wish him all the luck with this exciting project. We look forward to a nice warm bowl of pho soup later this year!
Phil’s entire restaurant journey from picking up the keys, right through to opening night is being documented by James Manson from Cameron Damon Media, featuring some colourful characters as well as plenty of sweat and (happy) tears.