Get to know Ken Lau from the Lau family’s Baysia Chinese Restaurant
Ken is part of the Lau family, who together have made Baysia Chinese Restaurant a favourite in Sydney’s Inner West for 35 years. After starting out as a waiter 20 years ago, these days Ken oversees operations and supports his father Wing Lau with day-to-day running of the restaurant. With Ken’s sister Robyn also on board for nearly three decades, it’s no wonder locals love returning time and again to Canada Bay Club for their delicious Chinese food – available dine in and takeaway – and warm, friendly service. Here Ken shares some memories from the restaurant’s early days and the secrets to Baysia’s longevity. Come and dine with us at Baysia soon to experience the delicious menu of Asian favourites for yourself, as well as the famous Lau family hospitality.
1. Tell us a little about Baysia Chinese Restaurant and its history at the club?
The Chinese restaurant has been part of Canada Bay Club for more than 35 years, under the management of my father Wing Lau. Baysia attracts many loyal customers from different nationalities and backgrounds, and we’ve always strived to offer affordable and satisfying Asian cuisine of the highest quality – whether you dine in or choose takeaway or home delivery.
2. How long have you worked in the family business?
I have worked here at Canada Bay Club for more than 20 years, beginning as a waiter and functions manager at the Chinese Restaurant. These days, I manage business operations and support my father, who still oversees the day-to-day running of the restaurant. Many of our loyal customers at Baysia still wish to be served by my father when they come in for a meal.
3. What is the best thing about working with family?
My sister, Robyn, has also been with the restaurant for 28 years, and her energy and love of our customers keep her here. Thanks to our father who instilled a strong work ethic in each of his children, we all enjoy welcoming back regular guests, hearing their stories and receiving feedback on our food (good and bad). They, too, feel like part of our family, and of course we also love hosting new diners. There is trust and a genuine interest in ensuring our customers enjoy their experience when they dine with us. It is a family business, so great customer service is paramount.
4. How have your parents influenced you the most?
My father is someone we all admire – hard work, persistence and resilience made him who he is today. He came to Australia as a young teenager and started with nothing. To support himself, he worked three jobs in Sydney’s Chinatown and all his savings were sent back to his own father in China. We all respect and honour his achievements.
5. Any other secrets of your success?
The trustworthy and loyal staff who work behind the scenes and who many customers don’t see. We share lunch and dinner with the team every day and share the ups and downs of life in hospitality. The secret to our success has always been teamwork.
6. How has the restaurant changed at the club over the years?
The restaurant has moved several times across various parts of the club. We have been downstairs, at the back, next to windows with views across to the golf club, upstairs and in the middle where The Brasserie now stands. We reopened as Baysia in our current space in 2015, with a sleek, modern renovation that’s comfortable for everything from a casual dinner to a celebration.
7. Tell us a bit about your customers at Baysia?
There are some diners who have been our customers for more than 30 years, and share their memories of how the club has changed. They always ask for my parents, which puts a smile on Dad’s face. We have a very diverse and loyal client group, and many of the regulars have continued to support us through our refurbishments and menu changes over the years. We often cater for parties and events, and plenty of customers rely on our take-away/home delivery service, too.
8. What is your favourite dish on the menu at Baysia?
We offer a wide selection of Cantonese and Chinese-Australian dishes on our menu, plus a kids’ menu so there’s something for everyone to enjoy. For me, it’s hard to go past a simple honey chicken and a seasonal vegetable stir fry. Or any of the seafood dishes with garlic, served on a hotplate.
9. What’s a typical day like for you?
It is a long day that starts at 8am when I take my daughter to school, before arriving at the restaurant at 10.30am. We serve a staff meal at 11am before the restaurant opens for lunch. We have a break from 3-5pm, so I pick up my daughter and return to the club at 4.30pm for staff dinner, then it’s dinner service for our customers from 5pm till 9.30pm.
10. What is the most inspiring part of your job?
Watching how engaged and passionate my father is at the restaurant. He likes to mingle with customers, club patrons and the kitchen staff. This is his life and he finds great satisfaction in reviewing how well, or badly, the day went.
11. What do you love doing when you’re not at work?
Spending quality time with my daughter, usually enjoying a meal out trying different restaurants.