bnn.lv Latviski   bnn-news.com English   bnn-news.ru По-русски
Tuesday 20.02.2018 | Name days: Smuidra, Vitauts, Smuidris

Restaurant Vairāk saules succeeded in tackling crisis

FaceBook
Twitter
Draugiem
print
(+1 rating, 1 votes)

Remuneration will start growing and people will get their spirit of life back, the restaurant Vairāk saules co-owner Endijs Berzins (Bērziņš) told about their lesson of the crisis to the business news portal BNN.

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Vairāk saules co-owner Endijs Berzins

How did you manage to maintain the food quality and prepare new chefs?

Out of the five co-owners of the chain Vairāk saules, two – Aivo and I – are chefs. We are currently «bringing up» the next generation. When the economic crisis stroke, we as managers got back to the kitchen together with other staff. We are working really hard from 9 AM to 10 PM. We are not spoilt bosses any more, counting money all the time, hiring employees and developing their schedules, launching new restaurants and organizing banquets. In the «fat years» it mistakenly seemed everything was turning out well. In the very beginning, in 2003 or 2004, we intended to become a huge chain as Čili Pica with at least 20 pizzerias. When we had opened 5 restaurants, we suddenly realized it is difficult to maintain the quality with the great assortment we want to provide. We cannot compete with Narvessen hot-dogs and Double Coffee standardization. Staff turnover was considerable in the «fat years», as the competitors headhunted both chefs and staff, promising them some lats more. Workers washing dishes asked for a double rate just to replace those whose «partying was prolonged» or simply the lazy ones. In the very beginning of the crisis, out of 250 people, we were left only with some 60-70% of those not aspiring to constantly change work places. At the moment our team is very strong, we can rely on them. We are like a close family. We have no secrets with our leading managers. We are all the time informing them about the financial results, profit and losses. Currently we see 5-7% turnover growth and we say to our employees we could return to 2006 level, hiring more and more people and increasing salaries, but it would be better to boost the productivity instead. Labour productivity of a single person is just phenomenal.

Will you take back the fired employees?

We won’t. If we keep the productivity level without increasing the staff above the current 120-125, we will gradually approach the European salaries. If our turnover reached 1.8 up to 2 million lats per year, at the moment it is above 1 million. But it is growing. Recently we have hired some two to three persons. We do not keep people idle any more, instead operating a rolling schedule as in the rest of Europe.

…Unique concepts are impossible to imitate

Seven years ago you launched this unique concept regarding the interior, mood and the menu. Did anyone try to copy the yellowish-orange sun?

You can copy everything, but there is no point in it. Only restaurants with chefs or waiters as owners, who have studied or developed hotel services careers can be long-term, for example, Jānis Jenzis. We are stable players in the area of average prices, thus we do not intend to jump into the field of expensive ones as Vincents with Mārtiņš Rītiņš and Bergs with Kaspars Jansons. We do not do anything we are not sure about. This business depends on the personalities of the chefs, devoting themselves to work up to six times a week, 12-13 hours per day.

Do you introduce to your menu what your collegue «discovers» in his kitchen?

Yes, that’s our know-how. A restaurant or a pub can be successful if the owner is devoted to it completely. I had only six days off in November. I worked from 12 to 14 hours in the rest of the days. If someone is ready to devote that much spare time to work, I guarantee he or she will be successful in launching a restaurant. Participation in the TV broadcast Glābējkomanda Cepums (a cooking show) contributed to our popularity for sure. I left the show as soon as I felt we started to lack ideas. I would make another show if I had a new message to deliver to the society, as Elmārs Tannis with his Garšu laboratorija, so that I was proud for what I do. We are soon to launch videos on our homepage vairaksaules.lv, instructing those who want to experiment with cooking.

Are all your restaurants profitable?

The pizzeria in Ogre is not.

Although it was the first one you launched in 2003, investing 28 thousand lats in it?

During the crisis we cut the prices by half in Ogre. We attracted huge numbers of clients, while the turnover remained more or less flat. Even a bit negative. The menu is still 20 to 30% cheaper in Ogre than in the rest of the restaurants in Riga. We even sold large size pizzas for 2.50 lats there, although they cost 4.70 lats in Riga. This is a delicious pizza. However, we do not «regret» Ogre, it is our history and we do not want to abandon it. Just recently we did refurbishment there. Ogre’s restaurant takes a lot of energy, but it is impossible to profit there. It is much wiser to invest in Riga with a greater clients flow.

…A completely recovered business

Are you stopping the expansion with four restaurants – pizzerias, a wok-cafe and Pastarellia?

These objects will exist for sure, but we are considering expansion. We have never mixed up the turnover with the profit, as some of our direct competitors. We did not reduce quality, just to earn as much as possible. When the crisis stroke, our aim was to keep what we already had. It is getting slightly better at the moment, as the prices of food we sell are not dropping any more. This is a huge «Wow!» from my part. We did not enter the newly opened Galeria Rīga, due to the excessively high rent. It would not be wise to invest 110 thousand lats in across the street. However, the positive effect is the fact tourists from the store come to us.

Has the company fully recovered?

Yes, we have. We do not have any outstanding debts. I would compare a catering business with a small state with 120 residents. Then you ask yourself the question, «Will you lead the state to the bankruptcy or to the victory?» All the employees know the actual situation – how much they have to sell per day not to make losses, and how important each lat is. Before the crises we had earned back the initial investments and paid all the mortgage loans. When the turnover dropped by 40% in four months time, we – owners – did not hesitate to invest our personal saving, in order the company would not lack assets. 15 to 20% people had less dinner in 2008 and 60 to 80% less people dined in 2009. We took the hit of the crisis, while others did not survive. We had a financial buffer zone and mutual trust. You can promise whatever you can to your employees but you have to keep your word, so that they are sure they will get the sum X at the end of the month.

What would you say to a foreign investor offering to acquire your chain?

You know, you can buy everything for money. Chains cost a lot of money. It is likely both Čili Pica and Gan Bei were sold, but the purchasers would want them below the market price. Currently we are not considering such options.

Have professional chefs stopped leaving the state for more wealthy ones in Europe?

I doubt high-rank chefs will emigrate. We had a guy named Māris, a good cook and a manager, he grew as a personality in two years time. He was offered a good position in London and he left. I say, «Leave if the offer is good, not making fries in Burger King, wash dishes or pick mushrooms.» Because when you return after five to seven years, you are only an excellent fries maker and that’s it. Māris became the right-hand of the chef and became a chief in a hotel in London in two years time. Super! Bravo! He might return with this huge experience and open his own restaurant.

Do you make pasta and ravioli just to sell them in the «green» markets?

No, there is something else in it. We learnt this in Italy from professional in a half year’s time deep studies. Pastarella supplies the rest of the restaurants, thus a mini-restaurant was born in the upper floor, where there was some free space. There are enough people of good purchasing capacity in Agenskalns. They will be sold and the central market of Riga at the vegetables pavilion for about 6 lats per kilogram – about five people can have a decent meal from that.

…Fast-food is entering as a road roller

When you opened a wok-cafe, instead of a bar, did you know it is going to be fashionable in Latvia?

With Wok-cafe we are trying to combine fast service with the green, slow-food way of thinking. My wife was learning in Paris, this is where I noticed the concept. Few minutes after ordering, you get delicious and healthy food. I realized this could be fast and cheap. One hour and a half long dining has turned into 40 minutes long one, without losing the quality. I am aware fast-food restaurants as Mc Donald’s and Hesburger have entered as road rollers. This is the future of Latvia. I visited Finland a year ago. We had a conversation with a new generation ovens technologies supplier, advertising making 60 hamburgers at the same time. I opposed it was not topical for us, as Latvians tend to eat traditionally, for example, in Lido or Vairāk Saules etc. The man listened to me and said they had the same situation 20 years ago. Unfortunately, fast-food is celebrating victory in Scandinavia. I believe unique concepts will be lasting. It is impossible food without a soul takes over everything. It might be we will continue developing exactly in the direction of wok-cafe. regarding overall tendencies in the next 5-7 years in EU, we are inevitably heading towards the fact people have dinner at offices, while ordering tables in restaurants for evening meals. Because business sector salaries will increase and people will regain the spirit of life.

How do you manage ensuring free of charge home delivery with the growing fuel prices up to 83 lats per liter?

We have to be one step ahead the competitors. They are operating this as well, how can we ask money for that? Besides, the number of orders grew a little. We are also giving free of charge plastic tableware. They cost 60 santims some time ago. Thermal tableware keep the food warm, which is especially important during the winter and the traffic jams.

Have people resumed organizing banquets in Riga?

They have. Last year only about two to three companies celebrated Christmas at Vairak saules. This year we serviced 15-20 banquets in December. The figure was 70 in 2006. Currently the bills are strictly checked, as people save more.


Leave a reply

  1. pop says:

    So it turns out someone was successful at combating crisis? Good job for that! Only real professional can do that!

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. Ruth.lt says:

    This seems as a good example of overcoming crisis and dealing with challenges.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. Colin Bowen says:

    I would be interested in anyone who can enlighten me as to any Latvian Companies that are buying goods from the UK , and if so please forward me details if you can to colinmbowen@yahoo.co.uk thanks . Colin Bowen

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. constantin says:

    I think one of the best examples of slow green food is krisna centre on baron street. They mix religion concepts with qualitative vegetarian food besides use municipality and european funds.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. CharlesettaRobbie says:

    One way to resolve a distinct segment market is to discuss with and spot the first merchandise.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. VinceTemeka says:

    One option to resolve a niche marketplace is to discuss with and see the first products.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

Bank of Latvia governor: I have received death threats

«This situation is incredibly complicated. This situation is quite possibly the most complicated one I have ever been in. I feel a great deal of support from people I don’t know, as well as my friends and family members. I have decided to not back down – I am innocent. The the people attacking my reputation have only one goal in mind – to have me step down,» said the governor of the Bank of Latvia Ilmārs Rimšēvičs during a press conference on Tuesday, 20 February.

Proportion of people working in Latvia’s culture sector is larger than the average in EU

The number of people working in Latvia’s culture sector is equal to 4.5% of the total number of employed people in the country. This proportion is also larger than the average one across the European Union, according to data published by Eurostat.

Ministry: idea for compulsory secondary education should be put on hold for now

Considering that Latvia’s Education and Science Ministry has several ongoing industry reforms, it would be best to put the proposal for compulsory secondary education on hold, said Education and Science Minister Kārlis Šadurskis during a meeting of Saeima’s Education, Culture and Science Committee.

Association: ECB should become more involved in resolving Latvia’s financial scandal

Association of Latvian Commercial Banks sees a need for the European Central Bank (ECB) to become more involved in the discussion and help resolve the situation, considering evaluation of ABLV Bank’s business model is in direct competence of ECB.

Hesburger to invest 11.5 million euros in Baltics this year

The largest fast food catering restaurant network in Finland and Baltic States – Hesburger – plans to invest approximately EUR 11.5 million in business development this year. EUR 5.5 million are planned to be invested in Latvia’s market, says Hesburger Development Director Ieva Salmela.

Air temperature drops below -30° C in certain parts of Northern Europe

On Tuesday, 20 February, air temperature in central and northern parts of Finland dropped to -27° C… -31° C in morning hours. In Norway, close to the Finnish border, air temperature has dropped as far as -34° C, according to data from meteorological stations.

FCMC suspects someone may want to undermine Latvia’s financial sector

It is not impossible that someone may want to undermine Latvia’s financial sector, said chairman of Latvian Finance and Capital Market Commission Pēters Putniņš in an interview to Rīta Panorāma programme on Tuesday, 20 February.

European exchange indexes decline; Wall Street enjoys a holiday

European exchange indexes declined on Monday, 19 February. No trading was performed at American stock markets, because the country was celebrating President’s Day.

Party: Latvian banking system’s crisis threatens Skanste neighbourhood's development

There are serious risks associated with European Union’s co-financed project for the revitalization of Skanste neighbourhood, including construction of Skanste tramway line, says member of Riga City Council and For Latvia’s Development party Viesturs Zeps.

Public opinion: KGB documents should be made publicly accessible immediately

Latvia’s society believes the KGB documents should be made publicly accessible immediately. In addition, residents say they are confident in their ability to discuss those documents without the country’s supervision, which takes the form of expert opinions prevailing over society’s moral views, as stated by guest researcher of History Institute of the University of Latvia M. His. Marta Starostina.

For Latvia’s Development: the prime minister is gone, but finance minister claims otherwise

«What we have observed in the past several days is that Latvia’s financial sector has received several heavy strikes as a result of the government’s uncoordinated and chaotic actions. Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis has evidently ‘disappeared’ and offers no clear plans to resolve the crisis, whereas Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola says different things in every interview. Such behaviour will not help resolve the crisis. It could instead pull the country’s financial sector in a much deeper crisis,» says chairman of For Latvia’s Development Juris Pūce.

Bank of Latvia provided ABLV Bank with a loan of 97.5 mln euros in exchange for securities pledge

The Bank of Latvia has provided ABLV Bank with a loan worth EUR 97.5 million in exchange for securities pledge, as confirmed by the financial institution.

Prime Minister: Bank of Latvia governor is not allowed to take official post

As a security measure, the governor of the Bank of Latvia Ilmārs Rimšēvičs has been applied with a prohibition to take post, said Latvian Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis after a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers.

Poland's halt to logging in ancient forest came after irreparable damage

Although Poland has stated logging in the old-growth Bialowieza forest has been stopped, Warsaw has failed to reveal the amount of trees already cut down.

«A good friend» pays 100,000 euro bail for arrested governor of the Bank of Latvia

Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (CPCB) has applied a bail of 100,000 euros for the arrested governor of the Bank of Latvia Ilmārs Rimšēvičs. The bail has already been paid to the State Treasury account, as confirmed by his lawyer Saulvedis Vārpiņš.

NP: ABLV blames Latvian officials for misleading foreign institutions

Last week, the reputation of Latvia’s second largest bank – ABLV – was seriously impacted. It is believed that money laundering was this bank’s main operation, and that it failed to comply with the prohibition on cooperation with North Korea. The bank is also accused of bribery. US Department of the Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement Network rarely speaks so directly of any credit institution, says Nekā personīga programme.

Changes to third-country student residence in Estonia to add more responsibilities to university staff

The Estonian government has backed planned amendments are to the Aliens Law implementing an EU directive into Estonian law, which change how third-country nationals on enter and reside in Estonia if they are study or performing research work.

Russia criticises U.S. charges of Russian meddling in U.S. election

The Foreign Minister of Russia, Sergei Lavrov, has criticised the charges announced by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, against 13 Russian nationals and three companies for election meddling.

Government plans to form four riot prevention units in Latvian regions

The State Police plans to form four riot prevention units in Latvia’s regions, says Chief of State Police Ints Ķuzis.

Syrian Kurdish fighters under attack by Turkey announce deal with Syrian government forces

The mainly Kurdish militia in the north-west of Syria have announced having reached an agreement with the Syrian government for the latter to deploy its soldiers in order to help Kurds repel the current Turkish attack.

NCP: it is highly important to replace management of Bank of Latvia and FCMC

Considering recent events, which have not only impacted the country’s finance sector but also its international reputation, the New Conservative Party (NCP) demands immediate measures to be undertaken to replace the management of the Bank of Latvia and the Finance and Capital Market Commission. On top of that, it is also necessary to perform radical changes in the organization and supervision of those institutions, says NCP chairman Jānis Bordāns.

Air temperature in Latvia to gradually decline this week

On Monday, 19 February, atmospheric pressure will increase slightly in the north. With that, it is expected to snow only around Kurzeme’s south-west. Air temperature in most of Latvia will stay at -1° C… -6° C. In Kurzeme, however, air temperature will be around 0° C… +1° C, as reported by State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Week in Lithuania. Lithuania celebrating centennial of statehood

Leaders of European countries gathered in Vilnius on Friday, February 16, to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of restored statehood, and festive events were taking place in many cities and towns of Lithuania.

BNN summary of the week: minister threatened with dismissal; ABLV Bank scandal

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Change; Fight; Court; Problem; Decline; Commentary; Future; Proposal

SRS uncovered violations in 169 inspections at catering companies last year

In 2017, the State Revenue Service (SRS) performed a total of 989 inspections at 212 catering companies. This includes 182 thematic inspections for 125 taxpayers. Violations were uncovered in 169 inspections. The most common violation was manipulation with cash registers, according to information published by SRS.

Most read

Most commented