Veni Vedi Vinci

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M+AD – with help from readers – has tracked down the owner of Lucky Lucky Dumplings pop-up restaurant in K Rd, and the ad-agency connection is real … if a little tenuous.

One of the partners behind the restaurant (rated 8.5 out of 10 by reviewer Jesse Mulligan, who wrote that Lucky Lucky is owned “by an upmarket ad agency”) is former currency dealer turned menswear designer and events organiser Vinci Gin-Nen.

His partners are Simon Curran and Lucien Law, owners of Shine Advertising. They are part of a group who own a number of other, unrelated, businesses (including the Seafarers Club on Quay St) with a focus on the hospo sector. They also own the landmark Las Vegas strip club building on K Rd (which houses Lucky Lucky).

Gin-Nen emailed us with his colourful back-story:

“It’s a concept I’ve had in my head. Anyone who’s been to Melbourne or NYC will realise where I’ve pulled the inspiration.”

Me and my mates
“Lucky Lucky is just me and a couple of mates rolling out an idea I’ve had for five or six years.

“The imagery / brand and photo shoot was a mate, his camera and my mate’s daughter ( she ain’t even a model).

“The playlist [Jesse Mulligan had asked – ‘when was the last time you listened to Pet Shop Boys’ West End Girls at full volume’] is literally my playlist, updated daily.

“Three things are missing from NZ food scene,” Gin-Nen says. “They are cheap good food, great non stiff food places that have a vibe (my rule – music must be loud !!), and authentic Chinese without a crazy too-flash seasoning; recipes I grew up eating – like salty fish in a can (dace); Dad had it weekly with white rice.

“Me, a couple of mates and chef Yukio got asked what would you use a empty strip club for during the day.

“K Rd is cheap eats !! Simple and easy. Within four days I went to Wah Lee, bought some lanterns, set up an account at Mercury Plaza for plates and sauces – and we opened.

“No design/ no corporate ad agency help; just needed to be different.

“My background ? I’m currency trader turned men’s fashion designer turned hospo concept ideas guy for mates with empty spaces.

The haters
“We heard local restaurants were hating on us, thinking we were bringing corporate Auckland to K Rd.

“Don’t get me started – I grew up with K Rd at my doorstep, with George Courts, Rendalls , fruit stores , immigration office at Samoa house.

“This is where I – a NZ-born Samoan Chinese guy – watched our communities slowly pulled out of K Rd, Ponsonby and Grey Lynn. So I see this as a small piece of homage to my K Rd back in the days of immigrants, fruit stores and 70s/80s music.

“Jesse’s review was amazing and we loved to hear we are unique; to hear what other local restaurants called us as gentrifying K Rd. They need to hit the history books, and reflect on who has taken the heart of K Rd.

“We are all about getting along but we feel some owner/operators need to uplift and support before laying blame and tearing down.

“Thank you for getting in touch. And pop in for some Lucky Lucky.”

M+AD thanks readers Juanita of the Retailers Collective, Kyle, and John Schofield (“It’ll be Shine – given the staff have come from Ebisu, Ostro, Seafarers”), and Rebecca and Erin who thought the agency was Supernormal.

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