There’s a certain collection of people in one’s life that have serious influence.
They can lift you up to soar with eagles, have you smiling from ear to ear, make you feel invincible, and also tear you to shreds and bring you plummeting to Earth with a bump. Yes folks, we’re talking about family. Genetics and chromosomes aside, our bond with family can vary wildly. But how would you feel about working with your family or, furthermore, do you think you could go into business with them?
Three young men who decided to do the latter and chase their dreams are the Carney brothers. Paul (the eldest) and twins James and Alec are the owners of Gemelli Italian in Broadbeach, Gemellini in Nobby Beach, and their new creation, Papa Rolly’s, an epic food truck that just happens to actually be a bus! The trio, who originated from Griffith in NSW, can claim a strong Italian heritage. The moment you see their beaming smiles, olive skin, and lustrous black locks of hair, there’s simply no denying it. For them though, this doesn’t make owning and running two of the Coast’s most successful Italian eateries any easier: substance before style is very much what these fellas are all about.
Intrigued to learn more about the boys and their motivations, we decided to drop by and see what insights we could uncover.
What do you love most about life on the Gold Coast?
Alec: The weather, for sure!
James: Summer and the beach, plus the lifestyle. It’s a small city, but a big city at the same time.
Paul: The lifestyle and accessibility. You look at say, Sydney, and it’s just so manic—hard to get anywhere or park your car. Whereas here, you can just stroll to the beach.
What are your fave places for coffee, eats, and drinks?
Paul: Bam Bam Bakehouse is cool; it’s always consistently good. For lunch I like to keep it casual—The Lamb Shop in Broadbeach or Franc’s Deli and Wine where they make tasty baguettes.
James: Jimmy Wah’s is a stand out, as is Hellenika, naturally. Etsu is a good spot if it’s date night.
Alec: It has to be Cambus Wallace for a late-night drink; keeping it local.
You guys are quite young, with that in mind, how would you describe the experience of opening your own restaurants?
James: Scary! When you’re younger, you have balls of steel compared to when you’re older. When we first opened Gemelli we didn’t really think about the risk involved. Now that we’ve opened our second venue and are expanding, we have thoughts like “should we be doing this?” If it’s successful, it’s a good lifestyle. If it’s not, then it’s going to be stressful.
What’s your take on the local dining scene?
Alec: It’s gotten a lot better since we’ve been here… ha ha, wait, you know what I mean! [laughs all ‘round]
James: When we got here there weren’t a lot of great restaurants. Now in the last three years, there’s heaps.
Paul: Gold Coast’s dining scene is underrated. Go to Sydney or Melbourne and you’ll find some seriously good places, but there are places like that here now, too.
What’s the best advice someone has ever given you?
Alec: Crawl before you can walk.
James: If you’re 100 per cent faithful in what you’re selling, you’ll be right.
Tell us about your heritage and how it’s shaped what you’re doing?
James: Mum is Italian and we’re from Griffith where there are plenty of Italian people. It’s where a lot migrated back in the day and it’s probably 60 to 70 per cent Italian families, so we’ve grown up making salamis, tomato sauce, and cooking.
Paul: Down in Griffith, you’re so close to agricultural influences and produce straight off the farm.
Alec: None of us are qualified chefs, we’ve just always cooked and picked it up off mum, most of which is common sense. If you know how to eat, you should know how to cook, I reckon.
What does a typical working day look like?
James: We generally start around lunchtime and go from there, although it depends. We’ve always got plenty to do but we can, and often do, jump in the kitchen or can be waiting tables up to four or five times a week.
Alec: There’s a lot of backroom stuff to do during the day, little jobs here and there.
Paul: Always something to do! If a light bulb goes out, you’re the one that will probably fix it.
Why do you think Gemelli and Gemellini are so well received?
Alec: It’s the food. We’ve stuck to our guns and made the food consistent. If you come today and then again in six weeks time, it will be exactly the same. Nobody wants to talk up a dish somewhere and take friends to try it, then for it to be bad, you know? “This wasn’t how it was last time”... that’s just not good.
An out-of-town friend comes to visit, what are your must-do spots to hit?
James: Currumbin Valley, Tallebudgera Creek and The Spit, for sure.
Paul: Definitely the beaches.
Alec: Take them surfing somewhere probably, although we’re from the country and we’re really scared of sharks!
If you could take a vacation anywhere tomorrow, where would you go?
Alec: Sardinia, one of the most beautiful places going.
James: Anywhere in the Greek Islands, for sure.
Paul: New York City, it’s just the best city in the world.
James: There are a few offers on the table; potentially something in Brisbane. We need to focus on what we have here at the moment, although no one is going to duplicate what we do.
Alec: No one can cook like us!
Want to learn more from the faces behind your faves? Catch up on our five-minute chat with the talented gals who brought you Bonita Bonita.
Photo Credit: Brooke Darling for Metropolist