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Dandenong Pavilion

Address: 55-61 Princes Hwy, Dandenong VIC 3175  |   (03) 9793 2133

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From an interview with Joel that has been edited.

I started working at Dandenong Pavilion about eight years ago.

I had been working in various hospitality jobs since I was 13 years old, I was really ambitious and I always wanted to open my own business; particularly a restaurant. So, about two years ago, I told my boss, Dani Zeini, that I was going to do my own thing and he proposed selling his share of the business to me. I was only 24 years old.

The venue has always been a place about respect and team work and it remains so today. Respect for the customer, for the food, for the staff and for the suppliers.

As a result, the transition to me becoming an owner was smooth and exciting. It has been an amazing journey so far.

Dandenong Pavilion


Like Dandenong, our business is a very multicultural place

We have people from all over the world and, every time I look at it, I think it shouldn’t work, but it works so well. It doesn’t matter who you are, or where you’re from, we’re all friends here.

The core values at Dandenong Pavillion are respect, understanding, communication and team work.

The nature of the industry is that you get some heated moments. It is a high pressure work environment. But - after work - we’ll get together, have a beer and a laugh. All those high pressure moments are soon forgotten.

Our training is second to none. The head chef and sous-chef spend a lot of time working with people in the kitchen as does our management team on the floor. As a result, our ability to take someone off the street, throw them into a dishwasher position and – in a years time – have them cooking is amazing.

We’ve sponsored a lot of people from overseas, and I am forever grateful for the hard work they put in. Many of these guys start off shy and after a while, they won’t stop talking. One of the finest compliments we receive is from existing staff recommending their younger brothers, sisters and cousins to work at Dandenong Pavillion. Almost everyone who walks into Dandenong Pavillion can feel and sense the happy, relaxed and easy ambience which we really value. It adds to the customer experience.

Gordon Ramsay may come along and say we're doing it all wrong but it works for us and it works for our customers. At the end of the day, everything we do, everything we plan, we do so that we can deliver the most consistently high customer service experience. We work hard to ensure our customers don't leave dissatisfied.

Dandenong Pavilion

We like to say that we specialise in modern Australian cuisine.

Steaks, pastas, parmas, calamari; a bit of everything. We pride ourselves on being innovative and creative, striving to deliver the best food at the best prices with the best service.

 We created a secret burger menu as we were becoming too much of a burger place, and we didn’t want to lose our restaurant identity. We thought, lets keep the burger menu a secret and – whoever knows about it – they can ask us for it.

When we were voted as having the best burgers in Melbourne in 2015 and 2016, our phones were ringing non-stop. It was phenomenal how that one big break really put us on the map.

While burgers have been really hot for a long period, we recognise life moves in cycles and while burgers will always remain popular, we have a vast menu with items such as slow roast lamb shoulder, Jack Daniels inspired beef rib, a wide range of entrees, numerous vegetarian dishes and in-house made desserts. We also have a specials menu that changes every 3 weeks!

We have almost 90 items on the menu if you count all the sides.

We are a family restaurant. People from all different cultures, nationalities and ages come here. We try to feed the soul. We have a curry dish from a chef whose recipe was passed down the generations. It’s the same with our chicken Florentine. It’s not a dish that you’ll find on everyone’s menu but it is phenomenal.

Modern Australia means that there are flavours from everywhere. We have our different stories but they all come together.

I went to school in St. Johns here in Dandenong.

They have a hospitality academy that works out really well for us.

To have apprentices that are interested in the industry, that know about our place, and know that anything is possible if you work hard, is both fulfilling and invigorating. They come in like sponges wanting to learn. Whenever we want to hire an apprentice, we go to St Johns. As a result, we have a really good relationship.

And – in terms of our plan for the future – we’re going to put a decking out the back and install a beer garden. We used to have a decking, but it was a bit dated so we took it down. We have been inundated with customers saying, “when are you replacing the decking,” so we are bringing it back.

Our Burger Stop also operates as a hole-in-the-wall at the back of the building just off the car park. It opens at 9.30pm and closes at 1am from Wednesday to Sunday. We were turning so many people away after our kitchen closed at 9.30pm, so we decided to leave the grills open. Plus, Burger Stop is also on UberEats.

Dandenong Pavilion is like a community in itself.

We always encourage the staff to spend time with customers and have a chat, and the regulars seem to know everyone by name.

There are customers who come every single day for something. This rapport is good for both the staff and the customer, as it just reinforces Dandenong Pavillion as being an enjoyable experience and that's exactly why we do what we do.

We suit all different occasions, which is a good feeling.

Dandenong Pavilion

I love the work.

Hospitality doesn’t have to be a hostile environment and if everyone is happy, the results are so much better.

We have 70 staff in the restaurant and, if I do have a day off, I rest a bit easier because everyone is well trained. It really helps when you work with good people. If you enjoy what you are doing, you are never really working.