Don’t miss what’s next.
Don’t miss what’s next. Get ready for
the next leap

Kim, Kaan, Roel, Yohan, Claudio, Fernando, Masaharu.
Stories yet to be written, waiting to be read

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chapter 01
If you don't face your problems,
they'll follow you wherever you go.
chapter 02
I studied fashion,
now I'm trying to change it.
chapter 03
So I decided to
give my city a chance.
chapter 04
Be prepared to sacrifice
everything for happiness.
chapter 05
I overcame my fears through my aspirations.
Hyoungtae Yohan
chapter 06
If you want to follow
your passion, make it your job.
chapter 07
The best day to get
started on something is yesterday.
chapter 08
Work smart to work less.
chapter 09
I have overcome difficulties by pushing myself even harder.
chapter 010
I am the sole master of my destiny.
I have overcome difficulties
by pushing myself
even harder.
a story by Ibby

Ibby left war-torn Lebanon in search of a better life in Australia. To support himself during his studies, he opened the Cuckoo Callay café in Sydney, an ambitious project which has become his vocation. In just a few years he managed to open 3 culinary spaces, creating work for 75 people and, even more importantly, achieved happiness.

In 2006 I had just finished my secondary school studies. Lebanon was involved in a large-scale conflict with Israel and the area in which I lived suffered aerial bombardment.
To escape from that life, I moved to Australia and enrolled in the School of Nursing. I didn’t have much choice. My original plan was to study medicine but, in order to succeed, I first had to ensure I had a bit of financial stability, perhaps through an activity that I could eventually lease out.
And that’s when I came up with the idea of opening a café.

I looked around Sydney until I found the ideal location, which was certainly over my budget, and I invited a friend to join the project to make financing possible.

At the time, I didn’t have any experience in the catering business. I prepared for my Leap of Faith by doing a lot of research.

I visited practically all the cafés in Sydney, armed with a questionnaire that I compiled to gather as much information as possible and to understand the common characteristics that determine the success of a venue.

Many people advised me to prepare a good business plan and suggested I ask myself what would make the concept for my café unique. Others simply advised me not to waste time in a difficult sector such as catering.

All great advice.
I listened to them, and I took the
most valuable information on board.

Finally opening Cuckoo Callay was anything but easy.
I had to find reliable staff and earn their trust and respect, despite the fact that in the beginning, it was me who was learning from them.

Then, when we had just opened, business was not good. I tried other cafés and I realised that, even though mine was definitely better, theirs were always full while we were struggling to attract customers.

It was my refusal to give up that enabled me to overcome these initial difficulties.

For a whole year, I was on the verge of thinking that it was all over on several occasions.
But it is precisely at the most difficult times that you have to push yourself harder, to take a step back, look at the overall picture and make the right decision.
For my part, I had the certainty of being motivated and passionate, always on the look-out for a perfect result.
Thinking back, that first year was positive. Having overcome that period of preparation, things started to get better.

After one year, I understood that I should have invested in advertising if I wanted to be successful, because it was as though my café didn’t exist.

With the help of an agency specialising in promoting restaurants, I started to be noticed.
Having come across some local produce, I had the idea of promoting Australian bacon through a special menu.
All the newspapers were talking about it and after a few days we had a queue at the counter.

Turnover doubled in a few months, to the point that we actually experienced difficulties: we weren’t ready to manage so many customers and we really had to apply ourselves. The success of the bacon isn’t an isolated case. Our creative menus attracted a lot of people, and two of our dishes ended up featuring in a Buzzfeed article on the '11 must-try specialities in Sydney'.

I still continue to visit all the cafés I can and I am personally involved in our menu planning.

I travel all over the country to get new ideas and I work closely with our chef to regularly update the menus and always have something new on offer.
I know my sector well, and the trends and pitfalls of the catering market.
Before my Leap of Faith, I was a lot less stressed, I only worked 40 hours a week and I had a lot more free time. But I never look back.

It’s now four years since I opened the first café in Newtown.
Since then I’ve opened Nour, a contemporary Middle Eastern restaurant, and another Cuckoo Callay in Surry Hills, in central Sydney.
I have 75 staff working in my venues.

I feel very motivated and responsible. Now I don’t just have myself to consider, my staff rely on me and my business.

I feel fortunate to be where I am and I am looking towards the future, curious to see where I can be in five years.
I don’t think I will go back to Lebanon, even though I still consider it my home. Living through war has made me stronger, but the future that I dream about for my children, when I have them, is more tranquil.

My life is here now,
where I love what I do.
Next story
I am the sole master of my destiny.
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