Bringing Malaysian Flavours To Tasmania: Oryza

“As an owner and operator, I like to get in and lead by example. If there’s broken glass, I’ll be one of the first to run out and pick it up. Dirty table, I’ll be out there wiping. You do whatever needs to be done. There are no secrets to success, just hard work.”

— Ian Chan, Owner, Oryza

Encompassing almost an entire block in the middle of the Hobart CBD, In The Hanging Garden is a cultural precinct and any foodie’s dream space. It’s also the home to Ian Chan’s Malaysian style restaurant, Oryza.

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A Collection Of Experience

Born in Malaysia and growing up in Western Sydney, Ian has always been surrounded by a Vietnamese community who influenced the concept behind Oryza. Honouring his family and traditional Malaysian flavours, Ian wanted to deliver an eating experience that reflected his life experiences. “I was born in Malaysia, my grandad had a restaurant in a little coastal town called Sitiawan. The food and flavours stem from there, but it’s also a culmination of my experience through life.”

Introducing these unique and very different flavours to a new city was always going to be a gamble. Ian has taken a hands-on approach to run Oryza from the get-go.

“When we first started, we weren’t too sure how receptive our guests would be towards our cuisine. You know, Nyonya pickle, fermented fish and stinky tofu aren’t traditional ingredients, it was a gamble to create something different. It was really surprising how receptive our guests were towards it.”

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A bump in the road

When the pandemic first hit in 2020, Ian’s sole source of income was decimated. Looking for ways to continue operating and not wanting to go down the third-party delivery route, Ian turned to Square Online and opened a website as an additional sales channel, offering food and drink via click-and-collect services in-house. “With the first COVID shutdown, it was so simple to get our website up and running in no time. It’s an easy drag, click, drop and you’re done. You’d be shooting yourself in the foot if you don’t have a website and multiple sales channels up and running. The website is a critical component of my business now, I can’t live without it.”

A night in The Hanging Garden

As life begins to return to pre-pandemic levels, Ian credits the support of his local community and loyal customers for the ongoing success of Oryza. “My favourite feedback is when customers say the food tastes better here than in Malaysia, that’s humbling.”

What keeps them coming back? Handmade food from the heart and a little personal touch.

“I’ll deliver our food because it creates personal interaction with my customers. I love receiving honest feedback too - that’s how you improve.”

“A lot of my guests I’ve known for years and they’ve supported me since I started. I remember one night we were extremely quiet. I wasn’t at the restaurant, but one neighbour called the other neighbour, and the other neighbour called the next neighbour - before we knew it the whole street was in the restaurant. They didn’t have to come in, but they did and I find that very endearing.”

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Square Stand front and centre

As a restaurant owner, focusing on getting the food right and interacting with his customers is the number one priority for Ian. Luckily, Square has enabled him to focus on this from day one. Square Stand allows me to focus on what I’m passionate about, that’s to create the food and give a sincere service to my guests. It’s also allowed a portion of the business to be run by my staff and I don’t have to worry so much about it. They can just look at the Inventory Management, for example, and know what stock to order the next day. They can keep up to date with Invoicing and other day-to-day activities, while I focus on growing the business, that’s what I love about Square.”

“I needed software that could help me grow. You can’t be running your business, trying to chase up your customers and look after your staff at the same time. There’s just too much involvement. Square has been like the better business partner side of me, to handle all the things that I can’t.”

As for the new Square Stand?

“The new Square Stand is a sleek unit. It saves on space, spins around and has just one cord. I love the transparency that it creates, especially for some of the older demographics. You can spin the screen around and ask the customer, “would you like me to print your receipt, and they will drive the payment themselves. It’s a very intuitive unit.”

Meet the new, reimagined Square Stand

A powerful iPad point of sale with an intuitive, customer-driven checkout and integrated payments.

Ian also credits how easy it is to bring his staff up to speed on operating the Square Stand. “A lot of my staff were already using iOS and they were familiar with the interface. They surprise me sometimes when they change a certain feature, for example, tile up the menu feature to make it easier to punch in the orders. Getting the staff up to speed was not an issue, it seemed like they already knew how to use the software.”

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Where Malaysia meets Tasmania

If you have been lucky enough to visit and eat in Tasmania, you will know that it exceeds its reputation for incredibly fresh and locally grown produce. This abundance of produce and rich ecosystem initially drew Ian to Tasmania, and is something he is continuing to focus on as he evolves the future of Oryza.

”You’ve got to constantly pivot, looking at other forms of income, like how you can grow your product line, add another product or grow your own produce. Our long-term goal is to build a smart farm. I’d love to grow bamboo and rice using renewable energy and control the food cycle. I envision Tasmania in twenty years will become a controlled growing environment, almost tropical, and agriculture will flourish - we could also sell that fresh produce online.”

You can learn more about Square Stand here.

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