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  1. #1
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    Advice for a restaurant in Pattaya

    What advice would you give the thousands of empty restaurants in Pattaya and the dark side which are mostly empty all of the time?

    My first one would be, unless you are a restaurateur, don't bother. I would hazard a guess that of the places I have eaten out at in the last month, Arroi Thai, 8 Horseshoes (Now a Russian place in Jontiem and bloody marvelous), and Ticino are all run by restaurateurs with solid experience. Every other place is run by people having a go, and on the whole, failing.

    My second would be decide what you are going to be, and do it to the best of your abilities. 99% of the places that are struggling and always empty are "Farang food with a bit of Thai for the blokes missus" type of venues. Usually these fail on all levels because the farang food is shit and not cooked properly, and the thai food is 4 times the price of the local thai shop, and not as nice. Thus, they are empty.

    My third would be If your chef / cook can not cook all the items on your menu, change either the menu or the cook. Don't just keep going because each new customer you attract will not return.

    My fourth would be to take some control of what comes out of the kitchen. Unless they have had some formal training (not education, but training) in western cooking, most thai cooks fail on every account to cook western food. The usual problems are meats not cooked properly, reheated food cold in the middle, and poor portion control. Basically they apply Thai cooking practices to western food which does not work. Take time to teach the menu to the chef, showing them each dish on the menu and the standard you expect them to cook them to. If they do not, they get shown the door.

    Lastly, only deliver the food all at the same time if your chef can actually manage his time properly to assure that the dishes are all ready at the same time. I would rather have food delivered the Thai way as and when they are ready than to wait and receive a cold plate of food that sat on the side waiting for the other one.

    Oh, and the golden rule if you are buying an existing restaurant.....if it is currently successful, do not buy it. Successful places are usually good because of the owner, and when that goes, the places goes down hill. So the only way to get your investment back is to cut corners and increase prices and next thing you know, you're boarding up the windows. Here's a wild guess - the courtyard pub changed hands in the last year? Was decent a couple of years ago but now is shit. Buy a restaurant that is cheap and on it's knees - that way you have little to lose.

    What else?

  2. #2
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    Your comments are those of a critical observer rather than someone who has experience. Am I correct?

    If, in fact, you are such an expert on restaurant business models, capital investment, cooking Thai food and serving why not set yourself up as a trainer and consultant? Remember that this is Thailand and the owners and staff will do things the way their Thai customers want rather than follow the dictate of some foreign 'do it the Western way' arm chair expert. An exception would be a foreign owner who welcomes your advice - I hope that you find one that doesn't kick your arse down the soi.

    When you draft your training programme, do remember to include food hygiene. You forgot that in your OP - a major omission for an expert.

  3. #3
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    My advice would be 'unless you have experience in running a restaurant here, shut the fuck up'.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gilbert
    What advice would you give the thousands of empty restaurants in Pattaya and the dark side which are mostly empty all of the time?
    Give up, or get a Russian menu.

  5. #5
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    Fact is there are many places you can go to eat a decent meal such as a Sunday Roast, Fish and chips and other pub/farang fair.

    To be fair it isn't difficult to cook such food and many pubs are offering good food but they all share the same problem.

    No fvcking customers..............unless they are selling the food so cheap it is commercially impossible to resist.

    Ticino probably offers the best upmarket style menu on the Darkside but I prefer a steak sandwich or a pie and chips with my beer.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marmite the Dog View Post
    My advice would be 'unless you have experience in running a restaurant here, shut the fuck up'.
    Is that addressed to me or the OP? If me, then I have no need to do what you suggest.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Morden
    Is that addressed to me or the OP?
    The OP, or I would've quoted you like I have just done.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marmite the Dog View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Morden
    Is that addressed to me or the OP?
    The OP, or I would've quoted you like I have just done.
    Ta!

  9. #9
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    I like a nice roast lamb with proper trimmings. Sportsman in soi 13 was great for chunks of the dead animal till they replaced the chef with a keeniow that started dishing out crispy paper thin slices of the stuff.

    Then started frequenting the Butcher's Arms in soi Bukhao, same same, chunks of the stuff and decent roast pots also till they got wise that as it costs them a few extra baht it also means a few less baht profit, and much the same, more veg and less meat of lower quality recently.

    I've heard the Ritz in Jomtien is spot on with both food and service, but seems you need a reservation most of the time which isn't something I'm into as I don't plan my dining habits a week ahead.

    Any recs gratefully received.

  10. #10
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    I dont know how any of the bars with or without food make any money. i haven't met an owner that has a stocktaker yet.

  11. #11
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    Pattaya is well and truly an overcrowded market. There may well be some growth in Russian cuisine, and good Korean & Chinese food, but the traditional beer bar/ pub grub scene is dead. It needs about 50% less of such places- to make the rest of them better.

    Pattaya is doing OK- it's just the old time farangs, hanging on to yesterday, that are squealing. Even back 4-5 years ago, in Pattaya when you found a decent place, it either went off or closed down- nothing lasted for long it seemed. The long term survivors in F&B are a handful, and they are mostly pretty good. The rest just amateurs, wrong business, wrong place, wrong time.
    probes Aliens

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Morden
    Your comments are those of a critical observer rather than someone who has experience. Am I correct?

    If, in fact, you are such an expert on restaurant business models, capital investment, cooking Thai food and serving why not set yourself up as a trainer and consultant? Remember that this is Thailand and the owners and staff will do things the way their Thai customers want rather than follow the dictate of some foreign 'do it the Western way' arm chair expert. An exception would be a foreign owner who welcomes your advice - I hope that you find one that doesn't kick your arse down the soi.

    When you draft your training programme, do remember to include food hygiene. You forgot that in your OP - a major omission for an expert.
    Why the aggression? Are you one of those stupid enough to venture into this, or worse still, set up your missus because, in your words "you're great in the kitchen, love, why not open a restowwwwwran"?

    Anyway, what part of properly trained chef did you miss, trying to pick me up on health and hygiene. Patronising tosser. It is funny, but your answer still wreaks of a man losing nmoney hand over fist in a shit pit of a restaurant that he should never have got involved in at all because he has no fucking clue how to run a restaurant or a kitchen. Please try to pick fault with any of my comments above - if you can.

    Quote Originally Posted by Loy Toy
    No fvcking customers..............unless they are selling the food so cheap it is commercially impossible to resist.
    I like your comment Loy Toy but slightly disagree disagree with this part. I bet there are times that the places like Ticino are empty and remain so for a couple of weeks. But they do not cheapen what they do. The biggest problem with, at a guess, 90% of the restaurants in the area run or invested in by farangs is that neither the farang or the wife have a fucking clue how to run a restaurant. They make stupid decisions, cut corners, hire shit staff, mistakenly think that their wife / MIL / wife's sister can cook so therefore she can cook professionally. Sorry, but stocking a commercial kitchen is no easy job and needs someone who knows what they are doing otherwise you get wastage all over the gaff or worse still, which often happens, the customers gets served spoilt food.

    What a weird forum this is - a thread about making suggestions of how to make a decent go of running a restaurant here, and a couple of failures come out on the attack.

    Quote Originally Posted by Marmite the Dog
    My advice would be 'unless you have experience in running a restaurant here, shut the fuck up'.
    I guess you do then. So are you telling me that best practice from all round the world is not useful in Thailand then? Actually, what you need is advice from people who are restaurateurs rather than builders who opened a gaff in pattaya because he had to move here after she got pregnant on his last trip. Feedback is the breakfast of champions. The only people who act aggressively to sage advice are usually those failing.

    Next advice - Small menu. Get things tight. Less stock needing to be kept, and less training for your chef. With a small tight menu they will get really good at those dishes, and then you can allow them some slack to put a couple of specials up (that you have tasted and critiqued first of course).

    Come on boys - you two successful profitable issan restaurateurs give us your great advice of how to be successful in Thailand.

  13. #13
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    As an aside, I wonder if the owners of these places know how to actually price dishes? The pricing is simply erratic at best, and often bears no resemblance to the components of the dish. Poor dish pricing is where those with customers will lose most of their cash

  14. #14
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    I have known experienced bar/ restaurant owners both in Bangkok and Pattaya who openly admit that food doesn't create the turnover that selling alcohol does.

    The skill in running a restaurant far exceeds the talent needed to sell beer and that doesn't only mean knowing how to prepare and cook decent food.

    I in fact have a mate who has a decent Sunday roast dinner at 99 baht and he only does this so as to bring in elbow benders. His plan seems to have worked as he averages 30 dinners every Sunday with each diner averaging at least 3 drinks each.

    Anyway there are heaps of places to dine in Pattaya but there in no way in the world I would attempt such a fickle business.

  15. #15
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    If you are talking about Smarty... that lad wasted his life on a building site. His grub is good indeed.

    Wet sales are always the cream on top but I am not talking about bars that sell a bit of grub to stop punters drifting off somewhere else. I am talking about restaurants where you go for the food. In this scenario you can not run loss leaders to get bums on seats as people only tend to drink whilst they are eating. If you price the dishes properly you make profit on every plate you sell.

    The one that got me going recently is the Drop In's new restaurant. My missus and me, on seeing it opening, wrote on a piece of paper exactly what we thought the menu would be and we were 90% right. They never have customers - ever, and I give it 2-3 months until it closes. You don't wish it on them, but at the same time, they are bloody daft to think that buying some tables and thinking the old kitchen maker shop will be an eatery. Especially next to the Chippie which is a good example of getting it right. Small menu, cooked well. Usually busy.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gilbert
    If you are talking about Smarty... that lad wasted his life on a building site.
    Pretty harsh words there mate as Smarty is still fairly young and got his best years in front of him.
    Quote Originally Posted by Gilbert
    His grub is good indeed.
    I agree. He is passionate about his grub and would do a lot better sales wise if he had a bigger, better equipped kitchen.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gilbert
    The one that got me going recently is the Drop In's new restaurant. My missus and me, on seeing it opening, wrote on a piece of paper exactly what we thought the menu would be and we were 90% right. They never have customers - ever, and I give it 2-3 months until it closes. You don't wish it on them, but at the same time, they are bloody daft to think that buying some tables and thinking the old kitchen maker shop will be an eatery.
    The philosophy was, the kitchen maker shop come up for rent and it was decided to have a go at making a proper restaurant expanding on the already pretty successful food sale business they are presently enjoying in the Drop Inn bar.

    In fact my family had a great meal there the other night and my wife and kids have requested I take them back for another feed in the near future.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gilbert
    Especially next to the Chippie which is a good example of getting it right. Small menu, cooked well. Usually busy.
    I have had some good meals there along with meals which were totally inedible and I have not been back there since. In fact the last time I took my family to Chippy's we all had the fish and chips and the fish was terrible and the chips soggy.

    Based upon your last post it seems that you may have some personal issues with some of the people trying to have a go?

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gilbert View Post

    What advice would you give the thousands of empty restaurants in Pattaya and the dark side which are mostly empty all of the time?
    Naked waitresses who spoonfeed the slop to the customers and open the beer by unorthodox methods. Guarenteed seat filler and you can sack the cook and just serve microwaved stuff. This is Pattaya we're talking about after all.

  18. #18
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    My personal feel is that the advice in the OP is spot on, but could be broader.

    Summed up, I would say if you can't do it in your home land, you sure as shit will not be able to do it here (rare, and i mean fucking rare, exceptions will apply).

    Look at all the people who open bars here and lose their shirts. Unless you know the work, inside out, upside down, you will not make it work here given the extra "problems". language, culture, etc.

    I remember a good few years ago, a post that was going around about running a bar. It had a section on "what you make money on" (three items, beer, spirits, soft drinks) and a list of "what you spend money on" which ran to something like 300 items, right down to toothpicks and toilet paper.

    restaurants (like bars) are fucking hard work. Anyone not knowing that is cruising for a (financial) bruising.

  19. #19
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    ^^ You have obviously been to the no-hands restaurant in Bangkok.

    Pattaya is quite a difficult place to handle customer wise as you need bums on bar stools and pretty young things walking around.

    But having that, which draws us males, does not go down with the wife if you wish to take the family to such a place to have a Sunday roast or evening meal.

    To be totally honest the Maprachan area (which is on the outskirts of Pattaya City) needs a semi upmarket place that can service the 1,000's of farang families that live in the area.

    Nice food, good atmosphere for kids and proper service. Open at 11.30am and close at 10.00pm.

    I was hoping that my friend who purchased the Mulligans Restaurant was going to convert it into a such a Restaurant but alas she has other plans for the place.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Loy Toy
    I was hoping that my friend who purchased the Mulligans Restaurant was going to convert it into a such a Restaurant but alas she has other plans for the place.
    She's in no rush either. What's the score?

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bangyai
    Naked waitresses who spoonfeed the slop to the customers and open the beer by unorthodox methods. Guarenteed seat filler and you can sack the cook and just serve microwaved stuff.
    Can't argue with that logic

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kurgen View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Loy Toy
    I was hoping that my friend who purchased the Mulligans Restaurant was going to convert it into a such a Restaurant but alas she has other plans for the place.
    She's in no rush either. What's the score?
    She plans to open a function centre for parties, weddings and corporate events and is putting a family sized pool at the back of the Restaurant.

    She will open the place according to pre-paid parties with set menus and hopes to operate about 3-4 times a week.

    She's made a fortune out of her Restaurant on Walking Street over the last 20 years and is a bit fed up with the complexities of running such a 7 day a week business.

  23. #23
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    Originally Posted by Morden
    Your comments are those of a critical observer rather than someone who has experience. Am I correct?

    If, in fact, you are such an expert on restaurant business models, capital investment, cooking Thai food and serving why not set yourself up as a trainer and consultant? Remember that this is Thailand and the owners and staff will do things the way their Thai customers want rather than follow the dictate of some foreign 'do it the Western way' arm chair expert. An exception would be a foreign owner who welcomes your advice - I hope that you find one that doesn't kick your arse down the soi.

    When you draft your training programme, do remember to include food hygiene. You forgot that in your OP - a major omission for an expert.
    Why the aggression? Are you one of those stupid enough to venture into this, or worse still, set up your missus because, in your words "you're great in the kitchen, love, why not open a restowwwwwran"?

    Gilbert:

    Anyway, what part of properly trained chef did you miss, trying to pick me up on health and hygiene. Patronising tosser. It is funny, but your answer still wreaks of a man losing nmoney hand over fist in a shit pit of a restaurant that he should never have got involved in at all because he has no fucking clue how to run a restaurant or a kitchen. Please try to pick fault with any of my comments above - if you can.


    You're way off the mark boy.

    Do you have any experience with delis. or restaurants?

    What's clear is that you are a very angry person. You slag off a shop that is called a deli. and then object to me challenging your credentials on the matter. Try a relaxation technique and find a more useful pastime.

    By the way, I forgot to mention that your training course should include sourcing fresh and top quality produce.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by nidhogg
    I would say if you can't do it in your home land, you sure as shit will not be able to do it here
    In the real world, I'd agree, but if you're in a part of Thailand where you're only competing against Thais then you'd have to go some way to fuck it up as much as they tend to do.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marmite the Dog View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by nidhogg
    I would say if you can't do it in your home land, you sure as shit will not be able to do it here
    In the real world, I'd agree, but if you're in a part of Thailand where you're only competing against Thais then you'd have to go some way to fuck it up as much as they tend to do.

    Fair point, but those local "mores" can come as a bit of a surprise. The farang who rents a building, makes a sucessful venture only to get screwed by the landlord who ups the rent ten fold because it is a success, the nearest competitor who dobs you into immigration, firebombs your place, hires a somchai....

    I am a "safe" kinda guy - the ones who make the big bucks are those who buck the trend, take a risk, put all in. Good luck to them, but the realist in me says that for every one who "makes it", there are a couple of dozen who don't.....which ever part of Thailand they live in....

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