Recipe for starting a restaurant
Chandan Kayastha shares how he created the Roadhouse Café brand.
The early 90s were the best years for Chandan Kayastha and his brother’s hotel business in Thamel. The locality, which was the THE tourist destination in town, was peaceful, and business boomed. But this was only the calm before the storm. The Maoist insurgency ravaged the tourism business in the following years, and the numbers started declining.
Kayastha then moved on to set up Roadhouse Café in a different part of town to explore a different customer base.
So how did he make the transition? What does he have to say to people who want to follow his footsteps?
Start your business at the opportune time
The hotel was the Kayastha brothers’ first entrepreneurial venture launched at the right time when tourism was booming in Nepal. “It was a good time to run the business as tourists were coming in numbers,” he says.
“The first step is to have the drive to do business,” says Kayastha. It can’t be just a few acquaintances getting an idea over coffee. There has to be a purpose to your business..”
The first venture gave Kayastha much needed experience to run a business. “It was about gaining experience. It was our first step in the hospitality business. We had not thought about the concept of Roadhouse yet.”
Adapt to face adversity
The Kayasthas were running a hotel business that was on a decline. “Due to the panic caused by the Maoist insurgency, numbers were dwindling. “It was a discouraging period. We had to make the transition into a local business, and not just rely on tourists.”
It was time to act, and act Kayastha did. “We were comfortable in Thamel. But we had to move to another location.”
This decision took Kayastha to another part of the city
“We made a conscious decision to open a café, Roadhouse Café, in Pulchowk,” he says. “We wanted to target expats and NGO/INGO staff, along with the locals.
Pulchowk at that time was barren when it came to restaurants. “If my memory serves me, Roadhouse was the second restaurant to start business there.”
The idea was to converting a living space into a café. But over time the whole of Jhamsikhel (an area near Pulchowk) morphed into Jhamel, warping itself around numerous other eateries that dotted the area.
This brought in a set of more lucrative customers. “The decision to move was the right one. We had a vision and we fulfilled it.”
Expand when the brand is established
The Roadhouse brand has been at the focal point of the business. They café has branches in key locations around the valley to maximize, handpicked to enhance the image of the brand. “We have been invited to open branches in different parts of the city., But we are very careful about where we go.”
“We are thinking about opening a Roadhouse Café in Pokhara.”