At a glance
Scaled from 7 to 45 employees in less than a year
Opened second venue in less than a year
Processing payroll from anywhere in the world
When Mo Moubayed, Jeremy Yong, Manoli Politis and Paul Flynn collaborated to open Thievery back in 2015, it was their uniquely modern spin on the standard Lebanese style cuisine that saw their first restaurant an instant success.
“There was a gap in the market – the kebab and the beer are the perfect pairing,” jokes Flynn. “A lot of Lebanese restaurants had that same kind of old school appeal, but didn’t really have any bar focus.”
Through matching cocktails, wine and beer with their exceptional Middle Eastern fusion menu, Thievery offered something truly different on the Sydney scene. Their relentless commitment to originality even extends to the booming hip-hop soundtracks that have become part of their trademark dining experience.
“We thought the hip-hop would be a nice differentiator for us,” says Flynn. “The hip hop is loud, the drinks are flowing, it’s always a good time here at Thievery.”
As a successful test case for sticking to what you love rather than convention, the team powered on to open Butter in Surry Hills, their second restaurant in under a year.
“Butter was the one that really was ‘us’ and what we had always known we’d get towards,” says Flynn. “It just came together really well and we found the right position for it.”
The ‘us’ that Flynn is referring to was the surprisingly brilliant combination of champagne, fried chicken, sneakers and of course, hip-hop, to create yet another bustling hub straight out of the gate.
We just went through interesting things that excited us. That was our first and primary goal.
Our value is not in administration. It’s on the floor with customers. It’s being the face of the business. It’s working on new business opportunities.
|How did the team manage to grow two hugely successful venues, scaling from 7 employees to 45 in under a year?|
“We went with Deputy straight up,” says Flynn. “People management can be the most difficult thing about the hospitality industry. It’s something that doesn’t really get better, and it never really changes, because you have a high turnover, casual workforce.”
“Deputy enabled us to scale without increasing our workload, which is the biggest thing for us,” adds Politis. “We’ve been able to open a second business, triple our staff levels and that hasn’t increased our administrative workload.”
Having previously had experience in managing hundreds of staff using paper timesheets, the Thievery crew knew that they needed a system in place from the start that would enable them to spend minimal time on admin, and more time on the things they love about their business.
“It’s a hard game. There’s low margins, a high amount of people coming through the door every day, and a lot of people to impress – so it has to be a labour of love,” explains Flynn. “With Deputy, we spend less time around the admin stuff, and more time around the stuff that’s interesting and makes us money or grows our business, talking to customers and finding interesting events for us to do.”
Deputy’s built in award interpretation together with our easy integration with Xero has also been a massive drawcard for the team, allowing them to simplify their payroll to one click.
“If we didn’t have Deputy, then payroll and rostering would be a frustration, it’d be real chore,” says Flynn. “I processed payroll from bed the other night, and I’ve also done payroll from Fiji.”
Being cloud-based has also given the team the flexibility to manage multiple employees across two locations without needing to be at the venue.
“We don’t have a physical office, and we always knew we were going to expand the business so being mobile was really important,” says Flynn. “I didn’t want hardware or anything I had to manage and maintain – and I’m sure we didn’t want to spend that kind of money either.”
“It’s a dynamic industry and we run a dynamic business,” says Politis. “The ability for me to be where I’m needed is crucial.”
When thinking about the future, it’s clear that the Thievery and Butter crew are excited to keep carving their own way in the bar and restaurant scene through ensuring their passions are always aligned with their business.
“We were successful in the beginning because our goal was to do interesting things, things that we wanted to do, things that were unique to the market,” says Flynn. “It would be very hard to sell that concept if we didn’t fully support it, and live it.”