The fastest way to loose money is to run a restaurant
This is on of the first advises I remember I got when I told a friend I would love to work with food.
My friend hadn’t got me right: I did not want to run a restaurant – just wanted to work in a business that have something to do with food and cooking,
God knows why – but now we have a restaurant in Kathmandu. And not only do we have a restaurant. Without even noticing we’ve slowly created a small catering business where we ‘service’ a few local embassies and the local international hospital.
The funny thing is that we do the complete opposite of all other restaurants in this country.
99 % of all restaurants have a menu with minimum 10 pages with more or less the same dishes: Nepalese food, Indian food, Italian food, Chinese Food, Continental food and sometimes a few own dishes. In a country with 16 hours without electricity or more it’s an ambitious card, not to say impossible to be able to make without almost killing people.
Right from the start we decided NOT to serve local dishes – we don’t want to compete with the restaurants next door.
So what kind of food do we serve?
The reason for us to make the restaurant of course is to give our guests what we know they’ll need, and can’t get anywhere else. So the most important elements in our menu are the two items all travelers are dying to get after a long travel of the beaten track: BREAD AND FRESH VEGETABLES.
So Tings smells of fresh baked bread almost 24/7.
And we serve lots of salads and fresh herbs – some grown in our own garden.
The rest of the dishes in our one-page-menu are inspired by our travels around the world and created from two principles:
- What’s available just ‘outside’ our door. If we start to import ingredients from Bangkok or Europe the dishes will vanish in the haze when we’re not at Tings.
- Like in the music business – Remix the local dishes. Nepalese are excellent at rotis. So we make them bigger – have a selection of 3 different fillings: one we call Lebanese (based on cinnamon and cumin – popular local spices), one we call Greek (based on tzatziki) and the the BLT classic. We call these wraps RIY (Roll It Yourself)…
So we’ve created a menu with 75% permanent dishes such as Vietnamese Sommer Rolls, Pizza bianca and rossa, pasta al dente with Mushrooms or Bolognese (based on buffalo) etc.
And 25% season dishes: Gazpacho in the hot season, French onion soup in winter. The lack of electricity means no/low cooling facilities. So in winter when the load shedding increases we use the old traditional preservation methods and make Confit de Chicken, Rillette de Wildboa etc
Then we add TODAYS SPECIAL to give some variation for guests who stays longer time.
And an important addition to the daily routines is PLAY FOOD, when we invite guests who love food and cooking – often professional chefs – to cook with us in the kitchen. It gives a lot of inspiration to the staff and our selves.
And our guests loves our food – or most of them do.
A further bonus is the knowledge we give our kitchen team… just being able to make western style bread gives them much better opportunities after a couple of years at Tings. And learning how the food is supposed to taste and look is a huge bonus. Making pasta al dente is an art they know to perfection.