local business stories

Lanterns Viet Kitchen

Lanterns Viet Kitchen (Lanterns) is famous for Chef Tuan’s authentic Vietnamese cuisine and flavourful creations. Vietnamese food at its finest in Berwick - the heart of Melbourne’s southeast.

The Business

The concept for Lanterns came about from a trip Robert Costabile took to Vietnam in 2007. During this trip, Robert saw Vietnamese orphans living in shocking conditions, leaving him with an unshakable desire to change their circumstances. A journey like no other, where he found himself and (business partner) Nam Nguyen teaming up alongside an army of talented people who shared the same passion.

In early 2008 Lanterns launched the first of three Lanterns restaurants in khnah hoa, Vietnam. With the sole purpose of functioning as funding a vehicle to further the Lanterns team’s charity work among local orphanages. The Lanterns restaurant chain then funded the building of school classrooms, the supply of food, and school scholarships for orphanages. Following Lantern's success in Vietnam, they opened a restaurant in Berwick in 2019.

This global commercial move strengthened Lantern’s philanthropic success and extended its impact beyond Vietnam. The power of Lantern’s global impact saw Berwick, Beaconhills College too, get involved with Lantern's charity work. The school achieved this by including it in their student community volunteering program. Resulting in its students travelling to Vietnam to work alongside up to twelve orphanages. Where they helped build classrooms - water facilities and teach English.

"Robert said, "Lantern’s secret to success comes from the passion and belief we pour into what we are doing."

"What I love about Lanterns is how it gives back to the community and gets the community involved."




The Challenges

Post-COVID, the reopening of the business was warmly welcomed by the Berwick community. But it was undeniably a time for change – a time for the business to realise its dream of opening a commercial kitchen in Clyde North and to adopt a different business model.

The Casey Effect

The community support we've received in Casey was fantastic. Especially during lockdowns. So, when we closed the doors of our Berwick outlet in August 2023 after five years of serving our loyal customers in Berwick and surrounding areas, we wanted to continue serving them. We know our customers loved our delicious Vietnamese cuisine and we were not about to take that away from them.

With the business taking a new direction, we have now realised our dream of opening a commercial kitchen in Clyde North, just 15km from our old Berwick outlet, to focus on offering takeaway and delivery options to our customers who continue to place orders with us.”

Each day, Lanterns chefs ready favourites, including pho, rice paper rolls and bahn mi, to be delivered, picked up by loyal customers and Uber Eats delivery drivers. The business is also offering catering services at private parties and corporate events. Check out their services here.

One of the ways Lanterns is giving back to the Casey community is by opening the doors of its industrial kitchen in Clyde to train young people to become chefs. Currently, a group of young people from gre8, the Capable Me School Leaver Employment Supports (SLES) Program, are being offered training at the kitchen where they are also learning to socialise and gain confidence as part of the SLES program.

The business also prepares and delivers 50 frozen meals to The Salvation Army site in Pakenham to be distributed to those in need.

Lanterns continues to connect locally by partnering with other local kitchens, including Zitto e Mangia, The Arancini Mann and Wingin It.

We can also expect to see a café-type mini version of the Berwick restaurant – Little Lanterns – at Clyde North soon. The plan is to create a space where customers can catch up with friends over coffee, cakes and cookies with a Vietnamese twist in addition to the usual favourite Lanterns’ Vietnamese dishes. Watch out for their grand opening soon!



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