After 21 years honing his skills as a manager and waiter, Maris Cook now co-owns Brisbane favourite Hello Please with Dan Ward.
Dan and Maris began working towards their next culinary venture, Ol’ School this year. Inspired by his mother’s homemade chips, Ol’ School is the result of Maris’s desire to introduce a high quality fish and chip restaurant to South Brisbane. He set out with Dan, co-owner Trent Barton, and head chef Jesse Stevens, to fill the gap in Brisbane’s dining catalogue.
“I just thought that it’s one of those comfort dishes that you don’t often make for yourself at home. Not everyone has got a deep fryer at home, or cooked fat,” said Maris. “I think it’s an opportunity for a relatively inexpensive meal out, but a really nice meal. So, we’ve gone for a good version of it, and do it with all our own flavours and sauces, and put a lot of effort into it.”
Maris and Dan first met in high school, their friendship later developing into the co-owners of Hello Please. It was at this Vietnamese-style eatery where they recognised head chef Jesse’s talent for driving the flavours of a restaurant. They decided that he, along with Trent, would be the perfect and deserving partner in their latest culinary venture.
Maris says that Jesse “has the skill set to take care of seafood”, which is one of the many contributions to bringing the Ol’ School vision to life. “I think that’s going to be our model going forward, is to partner with people that will be able to run venues with us, that we enjoy working with and trust, and are already working with our businesses, to help promote a bit of loyalty within our company,” said Maris. Additionally, Dan, Maris, Trent and Jesse hope to employ a management style that improves on the conditions of work that hospitality workers often face.
Many employees do not often experience promotions or pay rises, so the team hope to use performance evaluation strategies, like those used in the retail industry. They hope this will help their employees maintain a more sustainable lifestyle in an industry that involves long hours and hard work. In addition to their carefully curated food, the Ol’ School menu includes “a short sharp” wine list from Australian and international producers, as well as bottle beer, and a few cocktails, similar to those found on regular rotation at Hello Please.
Ol’ School offers the combined knowledge and experience of a team who has worked extensively in restaurants across Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney, to bring a new flavour to fish and chips in Brisbane.
Maris, Dan, Trent and Jesse serve up handmade chips, fish, potato scallops, fresh bread and their own range of sauces in what Maris describes as “a fun environment”.
Freshly opened in Hope Street, South Brisbane mid December, Ol’ School plans to add more than food to its menu, treating diners to theatrical entertainment alongside classic comfort foods.
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