Most restaurant owners like to establish themselves in a capitol city like Sydney first, then set up another restaurant in rural New South Wales. Sammy Jeon, however, has done the opposite.
With roots in Orange and Mudgee before moving to Sydney, Sammy now owns and runs seven restaurants across NSW, his most recent and first Sydney restaurant being Diana, a Chinese-Korean karaoke restaurant in Potts Point.
Sammy says: “It’s about coming from country to city and offering people a taste of regional New South Wales and its wine and how wonderful it is.”
Sammy Jeon moved to Australia twelve years ago as a backpacker. After staying in Bondi for seven months, he decided to travel to Orange, where he worked as a cellar hand at a vineyard for two and a half years.
Diana is named after Diana Shaw, who Sammy spent a lot of time with when he first moved to Orange.
Sammy says: “From my time in Australia and starting new businesses, for me it’s all about who you meet along the way. How do you get inspiration from them? Diana has been a huge inspiration in my life.”
The restaurant also holds several items that Sammy bought on his travels with Diana Shaw, as well as boasting a large portrait of her. “She’s a big influence… Diana loved blue and white pots, but she also loved stuff. I love stuff. And we used to go to Bali together and shop for paintings…” says Sammy.
Unlike most karaoke places, Diana hosts only one stage. Participants sing to everybody, not just their friends. Sammy says people at first were very sceptical “…But then I handed them the microphone, and they just love it. They absolutely love it.”
Diana isn’t just about karaoke. The restaurant also boasts a great mixture of Korean and Chinese food. For now, Sammy is sticking to tamer options of Korean food, but wants to build up the sense of adventure over time. Sammy says: “Everyone loves Chinese food, but Korean food we need to lift up a bit more. I don’t want to give everyone the extreme stuff straight away and turn them off. We have more Korean options, but we’ll introduce more Korean food later on…”
The restaurant also hosts a wonderful wine list, which includes several Australian wines, particularly from the Orange and Mudgee wine regions.
Sammy says: “I want to be very loyal to Orange wine, I want to promote Orange, how wonderful it is, to live in a country area, the culture, the wine, they have great people. I also want to keep reminding myself where I came from.”
Diana is located at 1/28 Macleay Street Potts Point, 2011. You can book your visit here.
Photo Credit: Diana Potts Point