In a tete-a-tete with Restaurant India, Rohan Saraf and Tatsiana Chykhayeva talks about their journey and experience in the international F&B market.
What was the whole idea of stepping into the food business?
I have been in the industry for 22 years. I did my +2 from Bengaluru and always wanted to do something in hospitality since childhood. I left the country when I was seventeen to study hospitality management from Switzerland. Later, I worked in Dubai and returned back to Switzerland for my bachelor’s degree and carried out working in the industry. I had the opportunity to work in many islands like Jamaica and Bahamas and spent almost 6 years as a beverage operation manager in the cruise industry. Being in the industry for all this while, I guess you reach a point when you want to decide whether you want to work for somebody else or you want to take a step and work for yourself. So, I left my job in Bahamas and my wife and I moved to India where we wanted to start something of our own. But not having lived in India for 22 years, things took a while. I think everything has a right time to fall in place.
Tell us something about Roadhouse café.
Roadhouse café is actually a brand from Nepal which was established in 1992 in Thamel, Kathmandu. Run by a dynamic brotherly duo, Chandan and Ranjan Kayestha. Roadhouse Hospitality have eight restaurants in Nepal under its umbrealla followed by two resorts in Kathmandu and Pokhara. Chandan’s experience and know how really helped us in opening our first outlet in India. It’s been 14 months since we started operating. It’s been a nice interesting journey setting up an outlet for the first time in India.
How are you bringing your experience come into play while running a venture of your own?
We both worked in the same hospitality industry. I (Tatsiana), dealt with customer service and he (Rohan), more into food. I think that when you work for someone things are little bit different. When you do something from your heart with the motivation to get everything right followed by the support of a strong brand, you are in a good place.
What is your uniqueness?
For us it’s like a triangle. It’s got to do with the ambience, service and food. The only reason people will come back to you are for these three reasons. This is our focus over here. We have expanded and tweaked our menu several time in the last 14 months so that customers get something new every time they visit us. We are always taking feedbacks and suggestions and trying to work on them to make sure that things are in the right place. Moreover, we have the experience and support of Roadhouse Hospitality of Nepal and their guidance helps us main consistency while we continue to innovate. Our food is prepared to order and we use a lot of fresh ingredients. Our focus in now on healthy vegan and gluten free options.
What was the idea behind designing the interiors?
As for the ambience, this place has been designed by Rishi Saraf of M/S Innovations from Kathmandu, Nepal, giving it a European feel. We wanted it to look elegant and to create a place filled with good vibes and positivity, where people can relax and enjoy our feel-good-food and drink along with personalized service.
How important are the staff in maintaining the business?
In our thought process, it’s a little Americanized without any hierarchy. We believe in living together as one small family working along with each other. My staff are my key. Her (Tatsiana’s) experience in customer service has helped us a lot in staffs training.Our chef Chander and his commitment to quality and innovation have helped us make a mark.
What kind of experiences you believe in creating here at Roadhouse café?
From our past experience, no matter where you go, the intention to visit a restaurant generally means to have a good time. We expect our staff to be attentive. If a glass of water is empty, refill it before the customer ask. If the table is dirty, clean it before they ask. If they have finished their main course, clear the plate and recommend the desserts. We encourage customers to share feedback so that we can work upon them making things better. Mistakes happen everywhere. We allow our customers to let us know what they liked and disliked.
What kind of challenges do you see?
There are daily operational challenges that we face however it all comes down to having a plan of action and working to be better and to do better.
Any expansion plans?
Definitely. The response has been tremendous which has motivated us to expand a bit more. Chandan and I are looking at other areas like Chandigarh and Jaipur for now.