Karl Cooney and Dannielle Gleeson opened their first Yulli’s venue in Surry Hills in 2008. Karl says that James Harvey started working at the restaurant as a dishy and ended up the beverage manager looking after the beer list. ‘He began brewing his own, and one thing led to another and his beer became really good and we began making enough to service the restaurant and Yulli’s Brews was born.’
Fast forward a few years, and in 2014 Karl and Dannielle moved to Byron with their daughters Molly and Winter. ‘I was focussed on growing the beer business and began selling beer in and around Byron to the local venues,’ says Karl.
Last year the couple realised that after having lived in Suffolk Park for five years and with their girls being happy at local schools, that Byron was their home. ‘We felt we wanted to be more of a part of the Byron business community, so we decided to take on another restaurant, and Yulli’s Byron Bay was born.’
Karl says that yum cha was something he and Dannielle missed. ‘We thought we’d do it so we had somewhere to enjoy it in Byron – even though it’s impossible at your own joint!’
Karl says he just loves the stress and the pressure of the restaurant business. ‘Anyone who stays in hospitality for a long period has to hate themselves just enough to get a kick out of a highly intense working environment,’ says Karl with a laugh. ‘Along with that, I love the team environment. I grew up playing team sports, and no restaurant works well without a strong team. In Byron we are ridiculously lucky to have our head chef Bee (Teerapong Supawan – originally from Thailand). Not only is he brilliant and passionate about food, but he is also unflappable, ludicrously quick at his job, and a pleasure to work with. When you have a chef like Bee it breeds a wonderful culture in the kitchen that filters through to the front of house and on to the customers.’
Karl says his customers have a lot of different reasons for loving Yulli’s. ‘I’d like to hope they feel like the restaurant is an extension of our living room and so they feel like they are guests in our home.’
Yulli’s has an extensive menu that has its roots in Asian fusion and is designed to be shared. The weekend yum cha menu is really a treat – Karl and Dannielle got what they were looking for, great yum cha in Byron. ‘The whole idea of being able to see a dish before you choose to eat it is fantastic. Menu writing is a fine art, but can never compete with seeing the dish in real life.’
Yulli’s on Byron Street is open seven days with their delicious yum cha available from 11.30am to 3pm on Saturdays and Sundays