Latviski English По-русски
Saturday 25.11.2017 | Name days: Kadrija, Kate, Katrīna, Trīne

Restaurant Vairāk saules succeeded in tackling crisis

(+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, 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. 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 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

Saeima member proposes finally arresting Aivars Lembergs

During debates regarding proposals for the next year’s budget, Saeima member Artuss Kaimiņš from KPV LV political party suggested finally putting Mayor of Ventspils Aivars Lembergs, who is accused of serious crimes and is currently suspended from his many posts.

Svarenieks: there could be a deficit of certain vegetables in spring

Cold and damp weather that has negatively affected the vegetable harvest in Latvia, will also affect the vegetable processing sector in spring because of a deficit of certain vegetables, says vegetable and fruit processing company Kronis board member Aivars Svarenieks.

Social protection expenditure in Latvia up 4.2%

In 2016, social protection expenditure in Latvia accounted for EUR 3.7 million and, compared to 2015, it has grown by EUR 151 million or 4.2 %.

Latvian parties took part in sports games organized by scandalous Russian politician

On Lāčplēsis Day, 11 November, certain members of the Saeima from Harmony party and Union of Greens and Farmers participated in sports games organized by Jaunā līga association supported by the Russian parliament. The initiator of those games is Dmitry Svistsev, a member of the Russian Liberal Democratic Party led by scandalous Russian State Duma politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Latvijas Avīze writes.

Famous Lithuanian film director suffers backlash amid sexual misconduct accusations

Although the list of powerful Lithuanian men accused of sexual misconduct is nowhere to match the similar compilation in the United States, where many women have busted an army of entertainment industry big-names, politicians and other public life celebs, however, the wave of woman revelations of men’s unwanted sexual advancement has reached Lithuania, too.

LEC: it is important to ensure efficient investing of state budget finances

It is important that the state budget for 2018 helps reach goals detailed in the National Development Plan, not look for excuses why something was not achieved, says Latvian Employers’ Confederation.

Latvian barometer: Zemgale’s residents are the proudest of living in Latvia

With Latvia’s centenary coming up, Baltic International Bank organized Latvian barometer to determine Latvian residents’ opinions on festivities associated with this event, as well as Latvia’s accomplishments and factors the country should improve.

Ašeradens: the state budget should contribute to changes in national economy

The state budget should contribute to changes in Latvia’s national economy. This is why it is necessary to ensure that Economy Ministry recognizes efforts to increase productivity of the national economy, export growth, attraction of investments, innovations and business environment development as priorities in the process for the formation of the next three-year state budget, says Economy Minister Arvils Ašeradens.

Belgian waffle factory fire closes schools in Brussels

A large fire has destroyed a waffle factory in Brussels, making a cloud of black smoke over a part of the European Union's unofficial capital.

Facebook to inform users, who liked secretly Russian-made political pages

The popular social network has undertaken in the U.S. to notify its users if they have given a thumb-up to Facebook pages, which around the time of the last U.S. presidential election have been set up by foreign actors with the aim of spreading propaganda.

Officials: a safe Europe is important for Latvia

Latvia is interested in a safe and strong Europe. Security is one of the most important priorities. Looking at modern-day challenges and technological development, cyber-security’s role only keeps increasing, said chairperson of Saeima’s European Affairs Committee Lolita Čigāne after a meeting.

Weather to remain volatile in Latvia; air temperature to drop again next week

No major changes are expected for weather in Latvia in the coming days. Friday, 24 November, will be cloudy and rainy. Air temperature will range within +2° C… +7° C, as reported by State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Pūce: RS is fortunate that «good uncle» Ušakovs gives as much money as needed

«Rīgas satiksme is a jar with an empty bottom in which Riga’s taxpayer money is put in from one end and the money put in it falls out of the other end and is used in different fraud schemes like nano-water, and the useless hydrogen-powered transport project – enormous and financially unreasonable projects....

Saeima approves next year’s budget; more funding for health and defence

On Thursday, 23 November, the Saeima approved Latvia’s budget for 2018. Next year’s budget revenue is planned at EUR 8.75 billion, whereas expenditures are planned at EUR 8.95 billion. The largest increase of funding is planned for healthcare. Latvia’s defence budget is set to reach 2% of GDP

Ķuzis: 94% of sex crimes against children are committed by people they know

Approximately half of sex crimes committed against minors take place on the internet, said Chief of State Police Ints Ķuzis at a press-conference on protection of children against sexual violence.

European Parliament approves use of EU Solidarity Fund’s advance payments

European Parliament’s Budget Committee has approved MEP Inese Vaidere’s submitted report on the use of advance payments from the EU Solidarity Fund in 2018, as reported by European People’s Party group Latvian press and communication advisor Ģirts Salmgriezis.

Authorities unmask illegal trade of products made from protected animals

Nature Protection Office and State Police have stepped up their efforts to increase control over trade of products made from endangered and protected species in the past month. Authorities have already confiscated different goods made from animals protected in Latvia and the world.

Swedbank survey: youngsters want stability; belief in Latvian labour market grows

Stability and income predictability are two of the most important values for Latvian youngsters when planning their future jobs. According to a survey performed by Swedbank, 53% of youngsters would gladly start working in an existing company.

Myanmar and Bangladesh to sigh refugee return agreement

In South-Eastern Asia, Myanmar plans to sign an agreement with neighbouring Bangladesh on the return of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees, who have fled to the latter, while rights organisations point to atrocities committed by Myanmar's military.

Polish shipbuilder accused of bribing Port of Tallinn management

A senior executive of Remontowa Shipbuilding, a Polish shipbuilding company, is facing accusations of handing large bribes to former senior figures Port of Tallinn, the Estonian state-owned port operator.

Lībiņa-Egnere may be appointed head of Saeima’s National Security Committee

Unity member Inese Lībiņa-Egnere may be appointed as the new head of Saeima’s National Security Committee, as reported by Latvijas Avīze.

Expert: real estate transaction volume this year may reach 100 million euros

The volume of commercial real estate transactions in Baltic States may exceed EUR 1 billion. Latvia, meanwhile, remains behind its neighbouring countries because the volume of transactions in the country may reach EUR 100 million, says CEO of Colliers International Deniss Kairāns.

Finnish medication prescriptions to be valid in Estonia

In Estonia, Finland's digital prescriptions of medications will be valid from summer 2018 and vice versa – from around mid-2019.

Talks commence on restoring ferry traffic between Ventspils and Saaremaa

On Wednesday, 22 November, a delegation from Saaremaa municipality arrived at Vetnspils Freeport to discuss with representatives of Ventspils municipality and freeport the proposal to restore ferry traffic between Saaremaa and Ventspils.

Family of killed Maltese journalist take police to court

The family of the killed Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia has sued police believing that it does not perform an impartial investigation.

Most read

Most commented

Newest comments