Noosa Boathouse owner Phil Bradford is a veteran of the Australian hotel and hospitality industry.
His impressive resume is an exciting – albeit exhausting! – journey through hotels, restaurants, and management; a worldwide journey that took him everywhere from Ayers Rock to the chilly streets of London.
Now the owner and director of one of Noosa’s local institutions, The Boathouse, Phil has added another feather to his cap with the extensive renovations on the waterfront venue. With a stylish rooftop bar, huge function space, and trendy coffee shop; the Noosa Boathouse feels brand new thanks to the Midas touch of Phil Bradford.
But all stories must have a beginning, and for Phil, this was in a Darwin fish and chip shop at the age of 13. Humble beginnings that taught him, from his teens, how a venue operates from the deep fryer up. By 15, he was working at a family friend’s restaurant, and through university he was working front of desk and as a porter for a Darwin hotel chain.
After he graduated, Phil headed to Indonesia, where he continued working for hotels. Having found his niche, the industry then swept him up on a 20 year whirlwind career, working in Ayers Rock, Hamilton Island, the UK, and Indonesia to name a few. In 2006, he felt he needed a sea change, and worked for almost six years as the commercial manager for petroleum company OzFuel.
This sea change wasn’t quite what he hoped for, however; the long stints in remote areas like Charleville and Cloncurry saw him miss his true passion: hospitality. By 2008, Phil was back in the game, and back by the sea. He purchased the original Noosa Boathouse from an old industry friend, and by 2013, was in the driver’s seat as owner and director.
In the years since, he has slowly but surely reworked the space to create a modern and exciting venue, with significant attention paid to the menu for the notoriously picky Noosa culinary crowd. And he couldn’t have done it without Silver Chef.
“I hadn’t heard about Silver Chef before The Boathouse,” says Phil, noting that in the massive scale of the hotel industry, all equipment and fit outs are generally purchased outright from the start. “It was a chef mate of mine who said: ‘take my advice. Don’t buy it outright straight away. If it’s sizeable, trial it through Silver Chef first'”.
After overseeing the opening of dozens of venues worldwide over his 20+ years in the industry, Phil knew to be wary of rushing in and setting his plans in stone before first testing the market. Flexibility, he says, is always the key to pleasing your customer. From menus to layout, equipment to design, you must always be light on your feet and able to shift and move with your audience’s needs.
“A lot of businesses go out and spend a lot of money on what they think they’ll need,” notes Phil, “and then it becomes redundant.” So, he decided to test out his new equipment over the 12-month rental period with Silver Chef’s Rent-Try-Buy®.
Different customers see different benefits to the Silver Chef solution, and for Phil, it had less to do with easing the cash flow issues with starting a new business, and more about trialling the right equipment for an untested concept.
“We had no issues with cash flow,” says Phil. “If I wanted to buy the product, I’ll buy the product.” He needed to test the equipment first – and money can’t buy that. Indeed, for experienced businessmen like Phil Bradford, Silver Chef acts as the innovative, flexible, and modern-thinking business partner behind the scenes.
It was the ease of mind, too: being able to bundle things together as one purchase, rather than sourcing individual deals. “For all our big ticket items we went through Silver Chef. We tested it out, 12 months tick over, and we buy it outright with a big discount. Easy.”
Nowhere else will you have this kind of flexibility with equipment. To be able to ‘try before you buy’ is a rare opportunity, particularly with large scale, expensive pieces like Phil is currently hiring.
In his time with Silver Chef, Phil has clocked up an impressive worth of equipment rentals. He has used Silver Chef to test out large scale items such as a Moffat range 6 burner convection oven, a Skope undercounter chiller, and a Moffat griddle with stand. He has also purchased several items outright including their Electrolux combi oven and Eswood undercounter smartwash dishwasher.
After a lifetime in hospitality, Phil has a lot to offer when it comes to discussing upcoming trends in the food and beverage industry. “It’s come back a lot from the GFC,” he notes, saying that the immediate downturn following the financial crisis of 2007/2008 was a real blow to the hospitality business.
“These days, it’s all about good service. You must have value for money – that doesn’t mean it’s cheap – and you then must back it with service, and consistency. Consistency is the biggest thing.”
For a man who seen luxury hotels and restaurants come and go for the better part of 25 years, we think we’ll take his word for it.