Robert Costablie is much more than just one of the owners of Roll’d at Barkly Square. He is a truly inspirational individual, who devotes his life to making a difference to some of the poorest and most disadvantaged children in the world. Robert has been kind enough to tell us his story:
In 2008 I opened a restaurant in Nha Trang, Vietnam, with an idea that the small profits we would make would go to help the children of an orphanage I was lucky enough to spend a few months with. The name of the restaurant is Lanterns Vietnamese Restaurant and it is situated on the small coastal town of Nha Trang, Vietnam. It was a small modest place at first, just 10 tables, 2 chefs, 2 waitresses and 1 Manager.
The name of the orphanage I stayed with is Sunflower Warm House and there was about 35 children living there. Within a few months, it was clear the success of the restaurant was providing more funds than were necessary to help fund the single orphanage, so I decided to expand the community work and asked the local people and friends to help me source more orphanages and children in need.
Over the years our work has expanded and the more we become known for our community work, the more places and people we are introduced to. We now work with over 13 orphanages/warm houses and provide some level of support for over 550 children in the greater Nha Trang area. We have in place a scholarship program that provides education funding for students from Grade 6 to University and are about 150 students involved in that program. We also supply weekly/monthly food supplies to 10 of the orphanages and they are provided with basic staples like rice and proteins, such as pork/beef or tofu, depending on their weekly requirements. We also provide free lunches outside the restaurant every Monday to local poor people.
Our restaurant has now grown and we are serving over 300 meals a day to mainly tourists and the travelling community. We employ 28 staff, both front of house and chefs. We have plans to keep expanding our community work and do a lot of work with some local volunteer groups who help us with the things we do. We hold an annual Children’s Day and bring together all of the children from all of the various orphanages for a day of games and fun. We have also got involved with a local Australian School who send students to Vietnam every year to help out with our community work and also be a part of a different cultural experience.
It seemed a natural progression to get involved with Vietnamese Food back in Melbourne and Roll’d was a really good fit with their fresh street food options and I hope one day I will be able to combine my work in Vietnam with my work back home.