We are very happy to introduce to you Yianni Passaris, the passionate owner of Brisbane's Morning After Cafe, Yolk which we recently featured here, and the soon to open Ping Pong modern Thai restaurant. Yianni takes all of our favorite things; food, design, and charisma- then holistically packs them into his eateries to create the perfect dining experience. We picked his brain about business, cafe design, and keeping it simple.
Can you tell me a little bit about your background?
I grew up in restaurants that my parents had so I guess I took my passion from them. I wanted to be an interior designer but I had to go back to school which was a big no no haha. So passion and design came together when I met Derlot designers and we started to tell my story within projects we built.
You have a few eateries around Brisbane now, can you tell me a little bit about each one?
Morning After was the first café of mine. There was a big gap in the market for a cool space with restaurant-quality food as a lot of places in the area had that used look to them. So my background in fine dining restaurants and looking for a better quality in life brought me into the café world, working breakfast and lunch in an awesome space. Then Yolk came around because Morning After didn’t have a takeaway trade as people flocked in to eat at the tables. So I wanted to do the opposite of Morning After and then I found another gap in the market to bring back snack bars in the city. Focusing on an Aussie staple, the humble bacon and egg roll. Then the concept of what came first the chicken or the egg was born. After working closely with my head chef that looked after both cafes at the time. As she is from Thailand and my fav food is Thai, I asked her "let's open a restaurant together." Another one of my dreams was to have a cool Thai restaurant! I always wanted to connect the golden triangle which was breakfast, dinner, and fast food.
Brunch is something that Australia seems to be pretty good at, what do you think is key to a great brunch environment?
What’s key to a strong brunch scene is nice looking food, but it has got to be tasty, aesthetic, and have great tunes! Put those three things together and customers' endorphins run like crazy.
How do you aim to set yourselves apart from your neighbouring eateries?
I think how we have set ourselves apart is having a unique place for people. We have the design sorted, tasty food, and a brand that ties everything together. When Derlot and myself sit down together. In order, we create a name, brand identity, concept, visuals. Once the business is born you can feel it has a purpose.
What do you think is key to a good cafe design?
The key is simplicity! If a small space don’t overcomplicate it. If a large space like Morning After create different layers. How we created different layers was having different seating arrangements! A banquet, communal, private booth, high tables and you need to bring the outdoors in is another major aspect. It builds and gives life to a space. You cannot just put tables up against a wall anymore and serve nice food.
You have incorporated a handful of George & Willy items through each of your spaces, what have you used and what do you love about each one?
We love George and willy! So simple yet it tells a lot. At Morning After we have a Studio Roller which I think was the missing piece before we had it! We apply all our daily specials on it and just gave it that café vibe. Then at Yolk we installed the Baker Menu, so simple and slick and it draws the eyes from every customer. It created that barn feel that we wanted. Now our new project Ping Pong we are installing the Wooden Letter Board which we got in white on white so against the pink walls it will just pop! This will list our special cocktails, wine, and drinks for the bar. Also, we have the Round Sign which we cannot tell anyone what it's for but keep an eye out for it because we will be doing something with it at Ping Pong.
What can we expect to see next from the Love You Long Time family?
I'll answer it in two different ways.
At Ping Pong, expect fun with an explosion of pink and good times! Like an adult candy shop, you will be able to enjoy beautiful bar snacks, curries, and more while sipping on a fresh kaffir lime margarita.
Our family strives to give people the best product we can deliver. We are very passionate people and we wouldn’t want to jeopardise what we have as the people have supported us very well and we thank everyone for this. But if I had one more project in me would be where this all began. Back to Italian cooking. Being Greek my family had a very successful Italian restaurant and I would love to go back into that cuisine doing something very simple and focusing on a few key items.
Ping Pong's pink interior details taking shape.
One item from each of your menu's that you must order?
At Morning After it would have to be the wagyu beef mince for brekky, Yolk, of course, the bacon & egg roll with a hash brown and sriracha mayo! And at Ping Pong our chefs signature dish the slow-cooked beef cheek massaman curry!
Ping Pong's pink interior details taking shape.
What is the best business advice that you have ever been given?
Your businesses will never grow by themselves! They need a backbone! That backbone is you.