Q&A with Jared Calnan from Lazy Su

O pening late March this year, the funky Japanese-Korean-American fusion restaurant, Lazy Su, has been flooding Instagram feeds, taking the Canberra food scene by storm. I managed to catch up with one of the owners, Jared Calnan, to talk about Asian fusion food and the Canberra food trends.

Q: How did the idea of opening a Japanese-Korean-American fusion restaurant start?

A: The vision started with me and then talking to Ben, Andrew and Shao Yi [the other owners] we kind of came to a finished product. The idea was always Japanese and Korean, but then some of the American influences came on some dishes came in as well. We didn’t want to be traditional Japanese or Korean but we wanted to feature enough of that that people that are really into Japanese or Korean food can order that so they could feel at home.

We wanted to have a modern and fun take on Japanese and Korean food.

Q: Lazy Su has become a very successful Asian fusion restaurant. Why do you think the business has been so successful thus far?

A: It’s a number of reasons. Firstly our experience, if we hadn’t had the experience that we had [managing and working in Suki Suki, Tongue & Groove, Miss Van’s, Academy and Wolf] we wouldn’t have been able to pull this off.

Secondly, I think Japanese and Korean food is fairly on trend at the moment, rather it’s very current. We’ve also tried to bring something into Canberra that hasn’t been done before.

We’re all young, a lot businesses owned in Canberra are owned by much older people. Obviously, they are very experienced and are quite successful but they are not in the market so much so they don’t understand what people want. I think we are at the right age where we have enough experience under our bet but also we still understood what people want.

Q: How has Asian influences changed the Australian palette?

A: Asian food is extremely popular in Australia right now with our proximity to Asia. There has been a bit of a change in Australia with a lot more Asian immigration, more recently from Japan and Korea.

Japan is also becoming a popular travel destination for Australians, so I think a lot more people are familiar with Japanese food now. It started with sushi and now they’re experimenting a bit more. It’s becoming a lot more mainstream and people love the flavours of Japanese and Korean food. It’s a combination of many things.

Q: Based on your observations, what are the current food trends in Canberra specifically?

A: Canberra does follow a lot of trends in other cities. A long time ago Canberra was never ready for a lot of those trends because they didn’t understand it, but now people are craving new things and willing to experiment and try something different.

I think venues don’t take themselves so seriously anymore. Venues need an atmosphere, people want atmosphere, they don’t just want good food anymore. They want a casual environment. Gone are the days of white tablecloths and fine dining to a degree. People want good food at a good price in a fun, inviting environment.

Q: There are a few Asian fusion restaurants in Canberra, what makes Lazy Su unique?

A: It’s experimental but accessible sums it up. We have food here that people come in and won’t know what it was. Things like our Cheesesteak Spring Roll and Takoyaki Fries are for people who don’t eat or understand Japanese food can come in and get something. Anyone can come in and eat here, but it’s different enough that it is more than just the standard stuff.

Q: Your Instagram has over 3000 followers and 2000 likes on Facebook. How has social media enhanced your business?

A: It’s enhanced it hugely. Social media is one of the most important things you can do in marketing. At the same time, the number one thing is word of mouth, if you do well on social media, word of mouth improves. The better your social media is, the more people talk about it and therefore the better your marketing is. It is not all reliant on your social media, but it definitely is a huge part of creating word of mouth.

Instagram is the future, but Facebook is on it’s decline so we haven’t really targeted Facebook as much as Instagram. We really wanted to make the venue Instagram-friendly, which was a big feature in our design. It’s key and a huge part of why we are doing so well is because of our social media. We tried to do something different instead of having soft standard photos, something that was fun.

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