Coming soon to a high street near you
So Asia is a unique oriental buffet-style restaurant concept. Malcolm Porter interviews So Asia founder Ashok Shrestha
MP: HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE SO ASIA?
AS:'So Asia is an exciting offering in the dining-out sector and uniquely serves dishes from China, India, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore combining the concept of buffet dining with high-quality, healthy oriental cuisine. We pride ourselves on using the finest quality, natural ingredients to provide healthy, fresh and highly authentic food. Our restaurants are designed to be relaxed, informal and can be enjoyed by the whole family.
MP: HOW LONG HAS SO ASIA BEEN TRADING?
AS:'We opened our first So Asia restaurant in Camberley in November 2006 the first franchised restaurant opened in Slough in July 2008 and our latest restaurant opened in Acton in October 2008. All three restaurants have been trading very successfully since they opened with the Acton restaurant averaging 2,500 customers per day in its first three days of trading.
MP: WHAT IS YOUR EXPERIENCE IN THE RESTAURANT INDUSTRY?
AS:'The So Asia concept has been distilled from the knowledge and experience gained during my 20 years' in the international restaurant industry, 10 Years' experience as a Managing Director of dining and buffet style restaurants in Hong Kong and Japan, and a decade of experience establishing and running 10 buffet style and other restaurants here in the UK.
MP: WHAT MAKES SO ASIA UNIQUE?
AS:'Unlike many other buffet restaurants, So Asia ensures the food is always fresh, hot and available when needed. We have developed processes to manage the buffet system that have been tried and tested over a number of years. The key areas of operations within restaurant management have been thoroughly developed so you are ready to go without any previous experience of catering or restaurants. The key operational areas that we take care of are menu creation; recruiting and training chefs; key nominated supplier network; restaurant fit-out and marketing.
MP: WHAT SUPPORT DO YOU PROVIDE FRANCHISEES?
AS:'We provide comprehensive support in our franchise package plus ongoing support which ranges from helping to identify the best location to designing and fitting out the restaurant. A comprehensive training programme including time at our head office as well as on-the-job training at our franchisees restaurant plus a bespoke launch programme to ensure each location achieves its aims and goals in the appropriate timescale.
MP: WHAT ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT CHARACTERISTICS YOU LOOK FOR IN POTENTIAL FRANCHISEES?
AS:'You do not need to have been a restaurateur or an expert in cooking to become a So Asia Franchisee. We are looking for franchisees that are able to manage people and ensure our customers leave happy; who have a genuine passion for the restaurant business; are motivated, enthusiastic and determined to succeed and possess good business acumen.