An idea to introduce urban Asian street food to Australia is paying off for new fresh food restaurant chain Bing Boy.
Since the first Bing Boy store opened in June 2011 – at Southern Cross Arcade in Adelaide – the locally established franchise business has enjoyed rapid growth across the country. In fact, there are now 30 Bing Boy stores nationwide, including 13 in South Australia, 14 in Victoria and three in Queensland.
The popularity of “Bings” – a traditional thin wheat omelette wrap with various fillings, also known as a Chinese crepe – has underpinned Bing Boy’s growth in Australia, which while swift and with minimal fanfare, has been in line with the company’s expansion plans.
“Bings have been enjoyed as popular street food in China for centuries so we were confident they’d be well received in Australia – and they have been,” said Ming Ma, Bing Boy Managing Director.
“We’ve been really happy with the response from consumers ever since we opened our first store in Adelaide three years ago, which has enabled us to move forward with our expansion plans interstate, including Victoria and Queensland.”
Bing Boy’s 30 Australian stores now employ more than 200 staff, with many more jobs set to be created as more stores open.
“As the popularity of our product continues to grow, so does the Bing Boy name. As a result, we’re opening more new stores across the country, which is great news for our customers,” said Ming.
“The ongoing growth of Bing Boy also represents excellent opportunities for prospective business owners. Many of our stores are now owned and operated by franchisees who we provide full and ongoing support to.
“Our franchisees also benefit from the low cost set-up of establishing a Bing Boy store and the outstanding return on investment that’s possible, while we’re confident of even higher growth for all of our stores in the future.
“Ultimately, our plans are to open Bing Boy stores in every state and territory across Australia and then who knows from there – expanding internationally is certainly a possibility one day.”
The original story behind “Bing” street food dates back to the seventh century during the Chinese Tang Dynasty. So the legend goes, a wrongfully imprisoned young peasant man was only permitted to receive paper, ink and a Chinese brush to write with while serving his prison sentence. However, his wife devised a clever plan to help feed him by substituting the brush with a spring onion, the ink with sauce and the paper with a thin pancake known as “Jian Bing”. The food enabled the man to keep his sanity and strength, which helped when he was eventually released from prison in time to sit the highly anticipated “Imperials Examinations”. These exams attracted intellectuals – rich and poor – from all provinces who vied for first place and the prestigious title of “Zhuang Yuan”, which brought with it great status and power. The young peasant man ultimately went on to win the honour.
Ming says the Bing Boy concept enhances the history of Jian Bing while bringing together Asian and western cultures for an easy and contemporary lunch or dinner option.
“The story behind Bing Boy is a tribute to China’s past. While we obviously hope that customers enjoy the taste of our Bings, we also hope that the back-story serves as a subtle reminder to people to be aware of the value of traditional culture,” said Ming.
“At Bing Boy, we’ve come up with our own version of Jian Bing, which while still based on traditional ingredients, includes a few extra enhancements to appeal to modern tastes.”
To date, Bing Boy’s marketing activities have largely been confined to its Facebook page (www.facebook.com/BingBoyAsianStreetFood) and public events, as well as word-of-mouth. However, these marketing efforts are set to be ramped up and expanded as the company grows.
“While we’re drawing on very old Chinese traditions, we’re still a very young Australian business competing against huge multi-national food corporations,” said Ming.
“Bing Boy has enjoyed a terrific start which we’re really proud of, but we’re not about to rest on our laurels. We see an exciting future as more Australians are exposed to Bings, which are providing a delicious and healthy alternative for lunch and dinner on the go.”