About eighteen months ago, Nathan Dalah and Nic Pestalozzi had a bright idea: create a Japanese- inspired salad bar in Bondi that puts as much emphasis on design and personality as it does fresh and beautiful food. So popular was the concept that the boys have just finished opening their fifth store.
Photography by Will Braden.
How did you two meet?
Nic: "We went to school together so we’ve know each other since we were probably about twelve."
How did the idea for Fishbowl come about?
Nathan: “We thought there was space in the market for a healthy, fast-casual option. At the time I was living in the states and saw this whole poke thing starting. We decided to take what I saw over there and tweak it to be more in-line with Japanese flavours and create a Japanese salad bar.”
The Fishbowl concept has proven to be a hit, what do you think is the secret to your success?
Nathan: “Attention to detail, definitely and also a desire to keep improving and keep honing the product and never being complacent. We have grown pretty fast but it’s always been organic. Every day we talk to each other about how we can keep improving the product and the process. We never want to get too comfortable.”
What do you think makes it so popular amongst the Sydney crowd?
Nic: “Everyone is quite health conscious and we’re delivering them a really fresh, healthy product. We’re also giving them an atmosphere as well – great design, friendly staff, fun music.”
Nathan: “We took cues from businesses like Gelato Messina, who came out giving people a really beautiful product, but also made sure to give people great design, good music and this fun personality. And I think that is what really sets us apart; we’re always focusing on giving our customers that whole full circle experience, but at the heart of that we have really beautiful, fresh food.”
What’s your all time favourite bowl?
Nathan: “For me it’s definitely The OG , with a bit of green chilli. That’s what I always recommend to whoever comes in.”
Nic: “I love the Green Room because I love yellowfin tuna, I love the chilli and I love the fresh wasabi. The OG is definitely a crowd favourite though.”
Why did you guys decide to start out in Bondi?
Nathan: “To us it was a really good alignment to our particular product, specifically the type of people we wanted to cater to. We felt that Bondi was a really good match for Fishbowl. At the same time it’s also a really discerning audience, so we knew it was a really good testing ground for us, and that if people here liked it, it would set us in good stead to perhaps open elsewhere.”
What is your favourite summer memory?
Nathan: “Our first summer at Fishbowl; in the middle of January we had a line around the corner and we were all just in there working hard but having fun.”
Nic: “I guess we were seeing what we were doing was being received so well.”
Nathan: “It was that summer where we felt like we had created a product that everyone loved and we were in there pumping out bowls, listening to good music and surrounded by our friends and then we would finish it all off with a swim.”
Describe the perfect summer’s day:
Nathan: “Wake up, have an early morning swim, followed by a coffee up at Saturdays NYC, then Fishbowl for lunch, followed by another swim, then some cocktails up at Icebergs to finish off.”