Tales of My Grandfather

Tales of My Grandfather

Nolan Taing, owner of Workshop Brothers Specialty Coffee, Melbourne

This Father’s Day, Benjamin Barker celebrates not just the fathers who have inspired us and sacrificed for us, but the grandfathers as well. We speak with Nolan Taing, 35, owner of Workshop Brothers Specialty Coffee and father to 2 beautiful girls, Chloe and Ashley.

Nolan’s parents owned Chinese restaurants while he was growing up so he and his siblings spent a lot of time with their grandparents. The bond they share with their grandfather, Paul Taing, 85, in particular, is special.

Originally from Cambodia, Paul escaped the Khmer Rouge during the Pol Pot era, fleeing to Thailand as a refugee before eventually resettling in New Zealand. In his adopted country, he created a new life for himself, working as a cleaner in schools to support his family. They eventually moved to Australia, where Nolan was born, and if anything, time has only made this grandfather-grandson bond stronger.

BB: What’s a special memory that you have of your grandfather?

NT: “The best memory for me is definitely his presence. My childhood was filled with moments with my grandparents, and I’m so grateful to have had them.”

BB: What do you and your grandfather like to do together?

NT: “We love to eat! Our love of food and coffee brings us to so many places.”

BB: How does your grandfather influence or inspire you?

NT: “Hearing his stories from a time in history where you needed to have so much courage and resilience in order to survive inspires me so much. To arrive at a foreign country with nothing and still be able to build a life for your family takes strength and determination.”

BB: How has becoming a dad to two young children changed your relationship with your grandfather?

NT: “I don’t think anyone will ever understand selflessness until they have kids. As a dad, I can now appreciate the things that you would do for your kids, and the sacrifices that you would make to ensure a better life for them. It’s no longer about you; it’s about them.”

BB: Has your grandfather given you any parenting advice?

NT: “His advice to me has always been to make sure that I play a part in my children’s lives. Be there for them, but more importantly, remember that it’s not the amount of time you spend, but the quality of the time.”

BB: Your grandfather was a businessman before he left Cambodia, and now you’re a business owner too. Did he play any role in influencing your decision to become an entrepreneur?

NT: “He has always told me to follow my dreams, and not the dreams of others. I think that’s important.”

BB: What advice has your grandfather given you on running your own business?

NT: “Always put your best foot forward. If you can win their hearts, they will always come back.”

BB: You were a banker for many years before doing this. Do you miss that corporate lifestyle?

NT: “I do miss suiting up every day, but now, as a dad and working in hospitality, it’s about finding that balance between style and practicality. Coming from a hospitality family, I have always wanted to do the same. It has since opened so many doors, and I love meeting so many fascinating people every day.”

BB: If your grandfather were a superhero, who would he be?

NT: “I think he would be Spider-Man. That famous quote in Spider-Man sums him up well, ‘With great power comes great responsibility’. Spider-Man is also known for his sense of humour, which I think is something that my grandfather shares as well.”

BB: Complete the sentence: When I grow up, I want to be…

NT: “As fit as my grandfather!”
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