Pongsathorn Patanan, or Eagle as he is known to his friends and customers, is a restaurateur with experience and a passion for food. When his restaurant Thai La Ong, located on Parramatta’s Eat Street, was faced with looming obstacles to face-to-face business, he received some well-timed support and inspiration from another Parramatta local foodie, Realise Business Advisor Viktoria Darabi.

Eagle spoke with Viktoria and recognised that when light rail construction was in full swing, the noise, road closures and disruptions to foot traffic would necessitate a change of approach. Like many other Eat Street restaurants Thai La Ong already offered customers services like UberEats, Menulog and Deliveroo, but he realised “these alone would not be enough”.

With Viktoria’s help and encouragement, Eagle put in place plans to draw on his previous catering knowledge, deciding, “If customers could not come to me, then I need to go to customers somehow.”

Based on his experience in other venues, he decided to cultivate a market for catered services in Parramatta. “I already had catering experience with my other restaurant in Newtown, catering for Sydney University events, school and corporate events,  just to name a few. So, I decided to use my network to increase catering orders for my Parramatta restaurant by talking to friends who worked in the region to help promote my restaurant and its ability to cater. I also talked to my customers during lunch (my lunch specials are popular for workers and students) and I mentioned that we also do catering”, Eagle explains.

The success of Eagle’s actions has resulted in some fantastic achievements with his Parramatta restaurant now regularly catering for Western Sydney University and various NSW Government Department events located in Parramatta. The percentage of catering revenue has become more significant to the business.

Working with Viktoria has also been a big source of support, with Eagle highlighting her knowledge on restaurants and catering, her business advice and tip sheets as a key benefit.

Eagle’s words of advice for other business owners looking to cater to Parramatta’s growing base of office and construction workers is, think of partnering with specialty online office catering services, such as Hampr, noting, “My Newtown restaurant partnered with Hampr, who works a bit like UberEats, but taking a smaller commission and dealing with corporates with large orders (>$500). Hampr helped increase our catering orders in Newtown. Hampr only operates in Sydney CBD at the moment but I’ve been trying to convince them to come to Parramatta, which they plan to do in the near future.”

During a recent conversation with Viktoria, Eagle advised that he has now partnered with a group that hosts church events around Sydney, “Just today I catered for approximately 200 people and this will likely be a weekly occurrence. In the next couple of weeks, I am catering for a number of NSW Government agencies”, Eagle said.