Mike Patrick, the Executive Chef and Owner of Fancy Hanks BBQ, Good Heavens Rooftop Bar and Heroes BBQ and Karaoke. Mike has cooked commercially for the past 20 years, specifically spending the last 15 years with live fire cuisines. Fancy Hanks was started by Mike 6 years ago. He has spared some time in his busy schedule to chat with us at Postcoder, just in time for the opening of his latest venture, Heroes, a four level South East Asian Charcoal BBQ and Karaoke Venue in Melbournes CBD.
Why did you start Fancy Hanks? What was your greatest challenge?
After a few trips over to the South of the US I fell in love with southern BBQ. No one was doing this in Australia back in 2012, and I knew that it would suit this countrys culture perfectly! At the time, our greatest challenge was trying to get people to understand particular cuts of meat like brisket, and pulled pork. People thought we were mad!
Whats a typical day for you look like?
These days managing our team that comprises of pitmasters, bar and venue managers. We have 50 staff who all love BBQ as much as us! It really is a big family. A typical day looks something like me meeting and checking in with the guys, tasting and looking at specials / menu changes and working through our events coming up. Then most days I get home to hang out with my 2 year old daughter Billie before she goes to bed.
Who are your customers and why are they special?
We have a large portion of return regulars. The live fire slow smoked BBQ scene has really blown up since we started out, so we get a lot of a home BBQ fans in. We also see many theatre goers before and after shows as we are right in the theatre district in Melbournes CBD. Plus of course the corporate lunchtime crowds.
How do you connect with your customers?
We use social media platforms extensively, as well as street posters, loyalty programs and monthly email outs.
How do you differentiate yourself from competitors?
We try and stick to the traditional methods of cooking over fire which many of our competitors do not do, but we serve food that is a little more contemporary to fit into the busy hospitality scene of Melbourne.
What would you say has been your magic moment / proudest achievement with Fancy Hanks to date?
Moving into Bourke Street in the city was an amazing experience, great to see the progression from trailer in a park to rooftop in the CBD.
Greatest piece of business advice?
Make a strong business plan, regularly reassess your goals and stick to them.
What is the best piece of advice you can give to others looking to start a business based on everything you have learnt?
Make sure that your concept is based around a passion of yours. If you dont completely understand what you are doing, then a customer won’t either.
And some quick questions to finish –
What do you love most about what you do?
Making people happy with food, drink and an amazing experience. Giving back to the industry that I have spent my entire working life in.
Whats one thing that always makes you happy?
Whats your rule of thumb when it comes to inspiring your team?
Be consistent with communication and show that you care for everyone.
Best advice you can give someone who wants to get into your area of work?
Surround yourself with staff who are better than you.
What do you think is the most common mistake that people make when starting a business?
Think it is a fast way to make money. Hospitality in Melbourne is possibly the hardest city in the world to make work.
Coffee or tea? Easily coffee!
Savoury or Sweet? Savoury
Whats your favourite holiday hotspot?
Bright, we go every summer.
Whats your #1 time management tip?
Write to do lists
Best way to spend a Saturday night?
With my daughter Billie and my wife Chloe.