Jay Moir moved to Vietnam a little over eight years ago and since then, him and his partners have made a big splash on the Saigon F&B scene, opening up award-winning spaces such as Layla Eatery and Bar, Summer Experiment and The Workshop. Self proclaimed "Alcohol Pharmacist" aka bar lover kicking it in Saigon, this Australian entrepreneur is now set to open a new space that combines all three - WKND. We caught up with Jay before WKND's launch, set for early December 2022, to learn more about the new space, the challenges as an F&B owner and his go to places in Saigon.
HS: What’s the concept behind your new venture WKND? How did it come about and what can we expect?
JM: WKND, the new baby, is an element that combines some of our well-known establishments - Layla, Summer Experiment, and Workshop. We wanted to create a space that follows the sunrise & sunset. We are super excited to share an amazing line up, from brunchin’, lunchin’ dining, tipsy late nights! Not only to mention, a very active space that will be very family orientated, with family activities and then moving onto 18+ activities with pop-up bars / events.
HS: What is a must from the menu we need to get?
JM: I’m gonna have to keep my lips sealed atm.. But, you’ll be blown away by the lineup and options available. Rustic loving coming your way!
HS: You’ve had many successful spaces, how do you come up with and decide on what concept to move ahead with?
JM: You might get a little chuckle outta this one.. But, red wine works quite well with our partners over a casual session. We always look at what we believe is needed in the market to help contribute to the ever-growing F&B scene.
HS: What are some of the challenges you face as a F&B owner in Vietnam?
JM: As we all know, the past few years have been a challenging one with Covid. It was a time to dig deep, and we overcame. The new challenge in the hospitality industry at the moment, is the lack of staffing. There’s a rapid growth and we’re seeing many new concepts / hotels pop-up. But there isn’t enough people to fill those positions. It’s a tad thin these days - it’s the issue our sector is facing from Covid.
HS: What are some of the major changes you’ve seen over the years in the F&B scene in Vietnam – good or bad?
JM: I’m going to stick to the positive here and mention the growing international recognition of Vietnam on the world stage. It’s great to see over the years that I’ve been here, development, growth, quality improvements, and standards driving forward. Many top establishments in the F&B scene are getting mentions in traveling magazines, Asia’ 50 Best platforms, acclaimed traveler recommendations and the list goes on.
HS: What do you think is needed to elevate the F&B scene here in Vietnam?
JM: The wheels are already in motion. You’ll see next year the F&B scene level up, even higher, in a positive forward movement.
HS: When you have time off, where do you go to eat and drink in the city?
JM: When I’ve got a cheeky 30 minutes to spare, I don’t mind kicking back in Thao Dien over coffee at the cool little joint ‘Aromour’. If I’m out for a dinner, I can never go wrong with a visit to ANAN to see Peter in his element, over some wagyu stir-fried rice & rice paper duck pizza.
HS: Who or what F&B spaces/people should we look out for?
JM: I would have to mention the team over at Rang Rang Coffee. It’s great to see them popping up around Saigon, and I’m guessing in time, around Vietnam. It’s a great space for the younger generation and introduction to the new age of specialty coffee.
HS: What’s your favourite / memorable food memory?
JM: It would have to be with my wife and partner of our group, in a simple back street alley, eating wonton dumpling soup, before having a little tour around town. It’s still something to this day, I haven’t been able to find what we had! It was my little oasis moment.
HS: What’s your favourite food/drink TV show/documentary/movie?
JM: I can never get enough of, “The Hundred Foot Journey”.
HS: What is your favourite city to travel to, to eat and why?
JM: I would have to say Thailand, Bangkok. The food scene, from vendor sectors to the restaurant game is phenomenal. I do also love a chili kick in dishes.
HS: What are your top 5 favourite cocktails?
JM: I’m a pretty easy goer when it comes to the world of mixing, but here are my tasty go to's: Americano, Campari Spritz, Rum Old Fashioned, Gin Fizz, and Dirty Martini.
ABOUT JAY MOIR
Australian, Jay Moir is the Co-founder / Managing Partner of Layla – Eatery & Bar, Summer Experiment, and the new restaurant WKND. He has over 20 years experience in the hospitality game, in both Australia and Vietnam.
From the beginning, Jay committed himself to building up his knowledge by leaning on inspirational leaders, as he climbed up the ranks. He worked many roles in some of Australia’s well-known establishments from casinos, cocktail bars, airline, cafes and 5 star hotels.
However, it was time for a little change of scenery and he followed his heart to Vietnam, to join in the fast growing hospitality scene in Saigon. Jay held a 12 month post as Brand Advocate for Bacardi Vietnam, where he drove a tangible increase in footprint and activation for Grey Goose and Bombay Sapphire. While there, he saw that there was a huge interest in cocktail culture, not just among consumers, but also among the local bartending community, which was increasingly staffed by young talented and ambitious bartenders eager to learn and “strut their stuff”. When Layla opened its doors four years ago, Jay really pioneered the concept of the “hidden cocktail bar” with its discreet entrance, dingy stairs and crumbling paintwork.
Jay has contributed positively to the scene, coaching, building & leading many well-known bartenders in the industry. He continues to open spaces and strives to do what he can to put Vietnam on the international map, showcasing the amazing local talent that’s just waiting to be unleashed.