Family-run businesses that make the QVB feel like home
24 Jun 2019
You may not have realised the QVB is home to a number of family businesses, many of which have become an integral part of the fabric that makes up this beloved and historic building. From a proud and long-standing chocolatier to Sydney’s foremost expert in quality produce, here are the family businesses that continue to enrich and delight customers both loyal and new.
Born in the Haigh’s family backyard in Adelaide in 1915, today the business employs more than 600 staff and yet the factory still stands in its original spot. The business is now run by fourth-generation brothers, Alister and Simon Haigh, who continue to pop into the stores regularly to chat to their teams. Diarne Weller, area retail manager says, “Anyone in the company can pick up the phone and call Alister or Simon. I actually speak to both of them regularly. We're on a first-name basis with the whole family.”
Haigh’s is the go-to for premium chocolate made here in Australia (a boon for quality control) – the range extends beyond 250 products, including the hugely popular Speckles, loose chocolates (don’t go past the dark choc truffles) and chocolate frogs. It’s a testament to the Haigh family that people who ate Haigh’s chocolate as children continue to drop by with their kids, continuing the tradition.
Sydneysiders knew little of German bread before Luneburger opened in the QVB back in 2005, luring newcomers with the smell of pretzels, strudel and breads just out of the oven. Ahmet Yaltirakli, a former goldsmith from Cologne, moved his young family to Australia and opened the bakery after learning what German expats here most missed about home. His son, Devin, was 12 when the first store opened, and now works alongside his father as second-in-charge.
All the breads and pastries are imported from Germany par-baked, then baked on-site to finish, hence that intoxicating aroma that most are hard-pressed to ignore. “We do this for authenticity’s sake,” says Devin. “We could replicate the flavour here, but it wouldn’t be the same. And it would be obvious to Germans who know what it should taste like. We’re trying to bring that familiarity back.”
The Parisi family tale begins back in 1954 with a traditional fruit and vegetable store founded by Tony and Bob Parisi. It quickly found success and built a reputation for an exquisite selection of produce. In the ’80s, Tony’s sons Dominic, Chris and John took it upon themselves to grow the brand – and that they did in Sydney’s Eastern suburbs for 29 years until the three second-gen brothers retired.
It was Chris Parisi’s son Julian, who decided to encourage his father out of retirement and back into the business. Today, the business is the supplier to Sydney’s most prestigious restaurants and operates what it calls ‘health bars’, including one in the QVB – serving fresh juices, gourmet salads and chocolate-dipped fruit, as well as coffee.
In 2001, a couple by the names of Manny and Gwen Spinola exchanged vows in the grandeur of The Tea Room. The venue spoke to them in such a way that today, they are its proud owners. Formerly a grand ballroom, The Tea Room is now the venue for indulging in enjoy high tea in a luxurious setting, replete with Florence Broadhurst wallpaper and the largest chandelier in the Southern Hemisphere. Whether it’s a birthday, Mother’s Day or hen’s you’re celebrating, it’s bound to feel like a family affair in this elegant and opulent locale.
Ben Aras’ parents migrated to Australia from their native Turkey in 1986. Once settled, they decided to celebrate their beloved foods, and those hailing from the Middle East. “We wanted to do a mixed concept of Middle Eastern cuisine, of Moroccan, Turkish, Greek, Lebanese,” says Ben. “It’s very authentic, which is why we have customers saying, ‘My mother used to make this.’” His father, John Aras, abandoned a career in mechanics working incredibly long hours and transitioned into food as a way to spend more time with his family. Today, his son Ben is the manager of QVB’s Sahara Grill – which opened just last year and offers a grab-and-go menu of freshly made gozleme, filled pide, kebabs and traditional sweets to busy commuters.
To find all of the cafes and restaurants listed above who provide a warm, family-enriched dining experience at the QVB, click on the links above or head to our A - Z Dining page
Julian and Chris Parisi featured above