5 secrets to running a budget restaurant

Learn the secrets of sustaining a budget restaurant from someone who has been successfully running one himself.

There is a popular saying that Kathmandu once had more temples than people. Today, a mushrooming restaurant business seems to have opened up almost asmany restaurants and bars in the cultured town as the people who frequent them. Such an increase in options for the public also means that the restaurants have to remain on their toes to do well. Combine this with the crazy inflation and running a restaurant might not seem as glamorous as it looks from the outside. How then does Zaika, a budget restaurant serving Indian, Chinese and Continental cuisine, right in the middle of Kathmandu’s tourist hub of Thamel manage to survive for so long? Does Zaika’s owner Prakash Rana know something other restaurant owners don’t? How is his restaurant a success when around him many others are folding?

1 Within the Family: Keeping the business within the family has been one way to sustain the company. This is one of Zaika’s secrets. The senior members of the restaurant staff are Mr. Rana’s family members. He is a chef himself and looks after the Indian, Continental and Chinese food. His wife is the chef behind the Nepali items on the menu. His two sons also help out at the restaurant when they can.

2 D-I-Y: Mr. Rana insists on running all the small chores himself such as shopping for what the restaurant needs. While shopping for food items, nothing goes to waste; him being the chef, he knows the exact amount of things needed for that day.. He’s even looked into the decor by himself. This helps because ‘no one knows the restaurant as well you do’, he says. It also saves him plenty in labor costs.

3 Grow Local, Use Local: Buying locally grown products not only promotes local businesses but also saves on cost. Besides locally grown vegetables and fruits, Mr. Rana also buys unprocessed spices, which are less expensive than processed ones. Instead, he buys the raw spices once a month and processes them himself. This saves on costs and also ensures better quality.

4 The Customer is God: Whoever said ‘the customer is always right’ is absolutely right himself. This is also what Zaika believes in. One of the reasons why people keep on coming back to Zaika is because of their great customer service. Besides having a warm, welcoming ambience, Zaika is always clean. The restaurant’s special dish is whatever the customer wants, even if it is not on the menu, says the owner.

5 How you treat your staff: Treating your staff as equals and with respect is best for the restaurant in more ways than you think. Mr. Rana shares that he doesn’t hire experienced staff but people who are eager to learn and work hard. The staff are also told that they need to work for a minimum of 6 months. In that time period, the staff train under Mr. Rana himself and learn the art of cooking and serving. After this period, they can extend their stay if they want or seek jobs elsewhere. Zaika will also provide recommendations to these staff. Because of this, the staff is usually loyal to the restaurant and work hard and honestly. This hard work shows in the food and the service which keeps visitors coming back for more.

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