Michael Tassis, restaurateur, George's Paragon, Rico Bar & Dining, Massimo Restaurant & Bar

Brisbane is now becoming famous for its variety of food, which is amazing for our industry ...

Brisbane’s dining scene is on the move, and this is most evident along the banks of the Brisbane River. Beloved seafood restaurant George’s Paragon has overlooked the river from its perch on Eagle Street for years, earning a reputation as one of this city’s finest eateries thanks to its combination of service and quality. The restaurant’s namesake, George Tassis, help build the restaurant into the culinary icon it is today, but his son Michael is the man responsible for its future. The enterprising restaurateur has recently put the cap on a huge year, in which he opened not one, but two new restaurants on Eagle Street – Massimo Restaurant & Bar and Rico Bar & Dining. We caught up with Michael to talk about growing up around restaurants, the secret to sustained success and the future of Eagle Street’s dining scene.

We’d love to start right at the very beginning! What’s your earliest memory of being around food and its importance to your family?
Coming from a Greek background, my earliest memory was of my father George having street parties inviting our neighbours over for a Greek barbecue feast. When we moved from Sydney to the Gold Coast, I remember going to the the restaurant at the age of eight, helping butter the garlic bread and feeling a sense of enjoyment!

Running restaurants has been the family business for decades – what was it like to grow up around kitchens and dining rooms?
From an early age I loved being around the excitement and buzz of the kitchen. I remember the way my father greeted his guests as old friends, and even the ones who came in for the first time were all made to feel special.

What inspired you to follow in your father George’s footsteps in hospitality and become a restaurateur?
I really enjoy providing good food and good service. Seeing the appreciation from our guests gives me a sense pleasure and achievement.

Last year you opened not one, but two restaurants on Eagle Street. What encouraged you to expand your portfolio twice in one year?
I always enjoyed different types of foods and decided to diversify – I was fortunate enough to get two sites close by. I always loved Italian and Spanish food, which I thought would be great for Eagle Street!

Both Massimo and Rico are restaurants with their own unique style and offering – how did you determine the restaurant’s culinary direction before moving forward?
I wanted to create two different restaurants because there are two large and different markets for Italian and Spanish food in Brisbane.

In your opinion, what are the most important factors behind a restaurant’s sustained success?
The most important factors for the sustained success of any restaurant are two golden principles – good food and good service!

What do you love most about Brisbane’s current dining scene
In the last three-to-four years so many new restaurants have exploded on the scene. Brisbane is now becoming famous for its variety of food, which is amazing for our industry.

There are lots of changes on the cards for Brisbane in terms of new developments and infrastructure – what is your hope for the future of Brisbane’s dining landscape, particularly along Eagle Street?
Change is good – we are already a world-class city! With the proposed future developments of Eagle Street, it will definitely be bigger and better and it will always be our home.

Here is a really difficult one for you – if you could only eat one type of meal for the rest of your life, what would you choose?
Indeed, it is a difficult one! I’d say lamb souvlaki with Greek salad. Yamas!

Finally, what does ‘success’ mean to you?
Success to me is having long-term staff working as a team and seeing the customers leaving the venue satisfied and happy – then seeing them come back again and again!

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