We meet the inspirational Joe and Rachael Nocera – owners and creators of DocknDine Café and their latest Italian Creation, Ignite by Dockside at Spinnaker Sound Marina, Sandstone Point- a must visit.
“There’s nothing in the world you cannot do – if you have the right attitude and have the right people around you.”
“We make authentic Italian hand-made food – we import our flour from Italy – we use live yeasts– we use Joe’s Nepalese base sauce – our Pizzas taste amazing.”
“If we can find and train young people now – then hopefully the next generation will understand these businesses and find it easier to create their own dream.”
“We didn’t come to Bribie with the intention to buy a café or restaurant – we just bought some land and we thought that we will live here one-day and the rest is history.”
Authentic and Driven
Every time I have the opportunity to meet passionate creative people, it gets my juices flowing – my brain can’t keep up with my four typing fingers and my ASUS Hard Drive can’t store the words fast enough – image being a hard-drive in my house – luckily I have a family of hard-drives that care for each other - It gets worse when we start talking food and cafes. I was having a chat to a colleague a few weeks ago and she said, “You should check out the new café at Spinnaker Sound Marina at Sandstone Point – there is an Ex-Sydney couple who have opened a new café and looking to expand – they also have a few quality chefs – this is one of my most favourite places.” That was enough for me to get cracking and line up a meeting with these apparent Ex-Sydney Siders. I headed off to meet Joe and Rachael Nocera, Owners and Creators of DocknDine, opened in January 2018 and the new Italian Restaurant, Ignite by Dockside opened on 1st March 2019 (about 2 weeks before this story was published).
Arriving about an hour earlier than our scheduled interview time with Rachael and Joe, I decided to head to DocknDine Café and check out the tucker – After my drive up from Brisbane, I was a little peckish. I did manage to briefly meet Joe who was working with the team and moving across the Italian Restaurant and Café during a busy lunch service. I ordered the Signature Beef Burger from the DocknDine menu accompanied by standard Flat White – it was bloody delicious – as a Queensland Pineapple Lover – anytime you manage to line up beef, cheese, bacon, beetroot, lettuce and pineapple on a Brioche Bun - I am happy – especially for $11.90 – are you serious – okay I passed on the extras – $4 for chips and a soft drink. I was also informed that I could order a Beer or Glass of wine for $5.00 extra – great value. To set the scene, the DocknDine Café is located on the Spinnaker Sound Marina at Sandstone Point with awesome views of the marina and Bribie Passage. The Italian Restaurant, Ignite by Dockside, is located almost next door to DocknDine with the same awesome views. If you are heading to Bribie Island, you can either turn left off the Bribie Island Road or turn right into Spinnaker Sound Marina if you are coming from Bribie Island. There is adequate parking within the Marina Carpark – just follow the signs or walk to the marina – you can’t miss it as long as you follow a path to the Marina.
Finally, our time arrived and in walked Rachel accompanied by Rachael’s Husband Joe - we sat outside together overlooking the Marina – it is a stunning setting. The first impression you get when meeting Rachael and Joe is a sense of calmness. Rachael has an infectious warm smile and is keen to tell the stories and Joe calmly shares his vision and ideas. When asked what drew this couple from a corporate lifestyle in Sydney to Bribie Island, Rachael said, “We didn’t come here with the intention to buy a café or restaurant – we did share a dream of finding a place by the water and perhaps owning an Italian Restaurant one day, but it was only a dream. We noticed something in an article about Bribie Island, so we decided to check it out for a weekend. We came up and drove over the Bribie Island Bridge and decided to purchase some land – We fell in love with the location. We then went for a drive and popped into the café at Spinnaker Sound Marina, which is now called ‘Dockndine,’ for a coffee and the rest is history – we stayed,” Rachael said. “It’s been a whirlwind ride since we bought and opened our very first café and called it ‘DocknDine’ in January 2018. We could not believe it when the restaurant next door became available which we also purchased and renamed it Ignite by Dockside - this only opened on 1st March 2019.” Both Joe and Rachael came from corporate backgrounds – Joe had been working in Logistics and Rachael within the Financial HR Sector. As Rachael said, “We both understand and love dealing with people – we complement each other.”
It wasn’t an accident that Rachael and Joe decided they could run a multi-venue hospitality business. Joe comes from an Italian Family and has learned many recipes from his Nona. As Joe says, “I have been cooking my own sauce at home for 15 years, using my Nona’s recipe. We always had a dream to create our own Italian Restaurant – it just fell into place – it was meant to be.”
In fact, Joe still makes the traditional Nepalese Sauce for the Restaurant that forms the basis for the Pizza and other recipes. Both café and Italian Restaurant menus were written entirely by Joe and Rachael based around what they cook and eat at home. It does help that they manage to recruit a few sensational a la carte and pizzas chefs to manage the food preparation and cooking processes. Yes it is true that one of their chefs has worked in Melbourne under Shannon Bennett which is helpful when it comes to creating authentic dishes and delicious sauces.
Joe said, “With our Italian Restaurant, we are focussed on authentic hand-made Italian food focussed around our wood-fired oven and local ingredients – apart from our pizza base flour which we import from Italy. This exert, taken from the Ignite by Dockside Website probably sums up the business: “Ignite by Dockside brings you fresh hand-made pizza, pasta and a selection of mouth-watering share plates as if straight from a Calabrian kitchen. With Daily specials like, slow cooked pork belly and beef cheeks, and freshly selected seafood right from the docks of Spinnaker Sound Marina - you'll be wanting to dine with us every day. We also have woodfire steaks and hand-crafted butters that will blow your mind! Ignite by Dockside boasts a strong dedicated kitchen team with renowned Head Chef Baptiste Varin and Woodfire Pizza Chef Shapan Zhe - Combine these two legends with our vibrant and energetic front of house team and creativity goes wild, so be prepared to be amazed. Not all dough is created equal - That's why we prepare our own dough using live yeast onsite, hand crafted with the best premium flour imported directly from Italy! All of our Pizzas are approx. 30cm and are cooked fresh to order in our amazing woodfire oven.”
Over the past decade, our television screens have been awash with cooking shows from across the world and thanks to Google, we have created a food savvy community driving high expectations. As customers today, we are blessed to have diverse food options supported by the morning coffee culture that binds our communities – we are blessed. We are blessed by people like Joe and Rachael Nocera for taking the risk – having a go and sharing their passion for food, wine, beer, family and life – what a beautiful team. You know you are onto a good thing when your guest shouts you a cold beer near the conclusion of an interview – well of course I said, yes – it was delicious thanks – I suggest you get down to the Marina and check this one out today.
Where have you been since you arrived on Bribie?
We have not been anywhere or done anything since we arrived here. We built a house and all our gear is still in the garage – our beds are made – we will get there – we are in the exciting/hardworking stabilizing period. It is a very busy 7-day commitment.
What drives you?
There’s nothing in the world you cannot do – if you have the right attitude and have the right people around you – we are a great team. We love people – we love food – We are both passionate about what we do – we can feel the appreciation for our investment and efforts. Building a new business and seeing the rewards through our customer relationships.
How do you keep a relationship going between husband and wife / Business Partners?
We have a unique connection – we just bounce off each other – we have a normal marriage – when your up – when your down – you just help each other – we make it through.’
What coffee do you serve?
We chose Aromas coffee because we like the flavour and it really works well in our climate and demographic.
How do manage to recruit competent staff?
We have been lucky to attract three excellent lead chefs, two cooks and a solid service team. Fortunately, our two business kitchens are connected so we can integrate our chefs and support our roster and prep needs together. We are also lucky because both my mum (Rachael’s Mum) and dad moved up to Bribie Island after we came here and now our mum helps at the Italian Restaurant (Ignite by Dockside).
Are you still recruiting?
We are starting to work with schools and recruitment people to support the education of young people from across our community. We are always looking for stars of the future - if your son or daughter are looking for work and are natural communicators - love food – love hanging around your home kitchen - willing to learn how to work in a café or restaurant – come down and say hello - Contact us some time - you never know where it will lead – we need good young people to lead the next generation.
Where do you see yourselves in 10 years?
We see that there will be an enormous growth across this area, and in 10 years across the region. Hopefully with a new lease and greater work life balance.
We would like people the see our venues as ‘the place to be’
The most important thing for us to create a legacy for our daughter – our family - our new community.
How do you manage to keep the staff and team focussed?
Communication is the key to every relationship – if you work and plan together and know what each of you are thinking – it makes life so much more attractive.
When are the businesses open?
Dockndine is open 7 days / 7am-3pm
Ignite by Dockside is open 6 days for Lunch and Dinner
Spinnaker Sound Marina
9-11 Spinnaker Drive
Sandstone Point QLD 4511
Bookings: 1300 93 473