Meet Jenna, Luke, Adam and Mark: the four passionate people at the helm of West End Charcoal. Not only do these guys know their business inside out they’re also deeply rooted within the community around them, which they ingest into the distinctive culture that can be felt so strongly within the environment of their restaurant. Moreover, the tale behind the success is littered with romance. Jenna let us know how it went down.
“No matter where you go, or what you do, when you’re a business owner, everything that you do becomes a part of that. You’re out for dinner thinking about menu presentation and decor and when you sleep, you dream about restaurant ownership.”
A tale for the ages
“Luke and I met while working in the restaurant that used to be where West End Charcoal is today. We became friends fast, and a few years later we fell in love. After one year of being together, Luke was offered the opportunity to open what is now West End Charcoal. He called and asked me what I thought about it. I’m someone who believes in saying yes when opportunity knocks. Luke was worried the stress of it might have broken us up but I just said ‘we might break up anyway!’ It’s a pretty romantic story – opening our own place exactly where we met. It’s a story we’ll pass on to our grandkids!”
“It wasn’t long before we got Luke’s brother Adam on board as well as their friend Mark, who’s a brilliant chef Luke had previously worked with. His love for food is second to none and you can taste it in every bite. Adam carries years of hospitality experience and loads of great contacts around Brisbane. We needed a great team and that’s exactly what we have. Each of us has a set of skills that complement one another.
When we first opened we were pulling a lot of long hours but the community also offered us a huge amount of support, without which, we wouldn’t be where we are now.”
Dare to be different
“The foods we love to eat are naturally our main source of inspiration. It’s a family business so we’re heavily influenced by that as well– our back wall is wallpapered with all the people who have helped us along the way. These inspirations have led us to create a fairly American style menu, including Mexican flavours and Asian influences. But we haven’t stopped yet and moving forward, we’re keen to venture into more daring things.
The craziest thing we’ve done as a business (so far) would have to be our cheese fry eating competition. We had eight contestants eating cheese fries with their hands tied behind their backs. The winner received free fries for a year! It was held on Derby Day as part of the West End Festival, which is a big event in the community. That was another thing where our amazing friends and family helped hugely and we’re going to do it again this year.”
The first bite
“Home cooking is something that we all have fond memories of, whether that’s special biscuits your Nan made or a gorgeous Sunday roast. Home cooking made big impressions on all of us when we were young. I think that shows in our menu — we all like the taste of real food made with fresh ingredients.
Chefs are usually two of three things: fast, clean, passionate. The key is to find which one you’re lacking and work on it. You have to remember not to sweat the small stuff because life’s too short for that. Trust your instincts and most importantly… get enough sleep! We also think you need to cherish those around you. We’d love to close down Boundary St. and invite the entire community for a big party. The best bands in West End would play and obviously, we’d serve cheese fries. You can believe me when I say it would be one hell of a party.”