Bowled Over by Fishbowl

Bowled Over by Fishbowl

Born and raised on the coast of NSW, the founders of Japanese-inspired salad bar, Fishbowl recently jumped state to launch their second Queensland store in James Street, Burleigh Heads.

In Fishbowl they serve up fast food with a difference, the group starting in 2016 with a simple goal to change fast food, change the culture, bowl by bowl.

Fishbowl founders Nathan, Nic and Casper. Image credit: Nikki

Specialising in made to order salads with a Japanese twist, the founders Nathan Dalah, Nic Pestalozzi and Casper Ettelson, were university students who self-funded the project which was destined to become Australia’s fastest-growing quick service restaurant chain.  

Born out of frustration at not being able to find tasty, healthy food in their hometown of Bondi, co-founder Nathan leaned into his early childhood memories of family sushi nights for the spark of inspiration.

Fishbowl’s version of fast food changes culture. Image credit: Nikki

“We wanted to create something that was a meal you could eat lunch and dinner, seven days a week. Taking the beautiful produce that we have access to in Australia and adding a Japanese twist, which would add a unique flair and more importantly, it would be bloody delicious,” says Nic.

The trio’s goal was clear. They wanted to empower people to make healthier decisions by turning salads into a lifestyle. In doing so, they struck a chord with diners, creating a phenomenon as the bowls reached almost viral status. At last, they had come up with a healthy fast-food option for people who hated fast food.

Bowls can be used for compost

In August 2022, Burleigh became the latest of thirty locations to open in six years across three states, all stores owned by the founders.

With infectious enthusiasm, co-founder Nic Pestalozzi tells us: “Fishbowl Burleigh has been six years in the making. We were founded on the coast, born out of a coastal lifestyle and attitude, so our Burleigh flagship feels like coming home or should we say being born again!”


At Fishbowl, as the name denotes, it’s all about the bowl and its contents, with food provenance, transparency and sustainability contained within.

With nine different proteins on their menu, each bowl begins with a customisable base and extras added. You can BYOB, that is choose all the ingredients, proteins and dressings to go in your own bowl, or go with one of the many House Favourites featuring fish, 12-hour cooked beef brisket, chicken, tofu or vegetables.

Big, bold and delicious, there are many vegan and vegetarian choices as the menu is centred around a vegetable base, and all bowls are available gluten-free on request.

The group sells over 10,000 bowls of our favourite, the OG, across its venues each week. The OG is loaded with kale, savoy cabbage, beetroot, shallots, edamame, red onion, roasted sesame dressing, wakame, tobiko and crispy shallots with salmon sashimi sourced from the world’s most sustainable salmon supplier, located in New Zealand.

Like other bowls, the OG is fresh and delicious. All ingredients are ethically sourced and made from scratch daily. Dressings are free from any artificial flavour enhancers and refined sugars.

“We can all contribute to a more sustainable ecosystem around food, and we want to be at the forefront of this conversation and change for good,” says Nic.

We have to agree. Any change for good in sustainability and fast food culture is a win win, especially when it reaches a new audience.


With thirty stores across Australia, and five more planned for Queensland, it would be fair to say that Fishbowl has been met with a feeding frenzy.

They are not the first enterprise to bring healthy bowl food to our shores, so what are they doing differently?

Martin Rybar, Head of People for the brand, says that the team are constantly striving for improvement. They are extremely passionate and intensely interested in every aspect of the business, from growing their own produce where possible, having a 24-hour turnaround from farm to bowl, zero waste through composting, transparent processes and open kitchens, team building, fostering local talent and embracing new ideas from team members.  

“This is where the magic happens,” Martin says, pointing to the open kitchen where co-founder Nic is working making bowls beside team members. It’s part of the culture for co-founders and management to be hands on in stores, creating a sense of belonging in local staff.

There’s definitely an air of intensity when Martin speaks passionately about the brand’s work culture which includes staff socialising together, establishing run clubs with Nike and F45 trainers, or pairing with local charities.

Since opening their first Fishbowl store in Bondi Beach, The Fishbowl Group has developed three other concepts for different audiences: smoothie and salad bar Side Room, modern fine-casual fish restaurant Fish Shop, and takeaway sister-store Fsh Mkt. With the Burleigh Fishbowl store now up and running, it will be interesting to see what next the group has planned for the Gold Coast.

Fishbowl, 2 James St Burleigh Heads QLD 4220 Open daily 11am – 9pm

NOTE: Good Food Gold Coast dined as a guest of Fishbowl.
Open daily 11am – 9pm
2 James St, Burleigh Heads QLD 4220, Australia