What started out as two friends dishing out homemade gnocchi at a weekly farmers market has become one of Brisbane’s most unique restaurants, Gnocchi Gnocchi Brothers.
“We have a genuine passion for delicious, authentic Italian food, and we saw a clear gap in the Australian market for a well-run, fast-service gnoccheria – a casual eatery solely dedicated to producing and serving fresh gnocchi,” explains co-founder and director, Ben Cleary-Corradini.
“While many Italian restaurants have gnocchi on their menu, we are proud to have opened Australia’s first, 100%-dedicated gnoccheria in 2015,” he adds.
Since opening the bricks-and-mortar version of their gnoccheria stall in Paddington, Ben and fellow co-founder/director Theo Roduner have grown the business to employ 17 staff. The market stalls continue while the duo focus on expanding the business, with two more restaurants, in South Bank and the Gold Coast, due to open by the end of 2019.
A Gnocchi Gnocchi Brothers production facility in Everton Hills supplies the gnocchi made fresh daily and the sauces that have earned a dedicated and growing legion of fans.
What is your role in the business?
As co-founder and director, I oversee commercial, franchising, human resources, marketing and the customer experience. My business partner, Theo Roduner, is Executive Chef and takes care of all core operational aspects, such as food sourcing and production, back of house operations and supply and logistics to each of our locations.
What is your professional background?
I completed a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Wollongong and a Master of Business at the UQ Business School.
Before venturing into small business, I worked as a management consultant for PwC Australia, which gave me an insight into how enterprises operate and how businesses can transform through strategic and operational improvement initiatives.
Had you run your own business before?
Yes. Before Gnocchi Gnocchi Brothers, I followed my passion for quality Italian produce and founded a boutique business, Benfatti, which imported and distributed Italian food and wine, and offered gastronomic tours of Italy. While Benfatti no longer imports goods, my wife and I continue to run Benfatti Tours, which specialises in guiding small groups of food lovers across regional Italy every September.
How did you raise capital to finance your venture?
Theo and I banded together just enough of our own money to buy the ingredients for our first batch of gnocchi and pay the rent on our first market stall. We were lucky enough to fund ourselves week-to-week with the positive cash flow from our weekly trade.
How do you market your business?
We believe there is nothing better than grassroots marketing. We continue to attend the weekly farmers markets where we started, which helps us stay in touch with our loyal customers.
We also have a dedicated team that trades at major events in Brisbane such as the Ekka, Regional Flavours and Beer InCider, as well as other food festivals across Australia. These events allow us to introduce our product to larger audiences.
We are also very active on social media and work closely with our delivery partner, Uber Eats, to better understand and reach our customers through targeted marketing campaigns.
What has been the best financial investment you’ve made in your business?
Establishing our production factory. While it has been costly, it has provided us with the ability to triple our production power and improve our quality and supply reliability so we can comfortably roll out and supply our new franchise stores.
Where do you see Gnocchi Gnocchi Brothers one year from now? And in five years?
A year from now, Gnocchi Gnocchi Brothers will be well established with profitable franchise stores running across Brisbane, the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast.
In five years, we will replicate our Queensland success and grow our business model across Sydney and Melbourne. By 2025, we aim to be well recognised across Australia as a leading fast casual Italian restaurant franchise that offers the most delicious gnocchi dishes ever experienced.