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Tuesday 18.09.2018 | Name days: Liesma, Elita, Alita

Periodical kebab booms in Latvia

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In times of crisis people mostly try not to spend more than two lats on dinner, thus fast food restaurants and special offers are especially demanded at the moment, Kebabs par latu (Kebab for a lat) owner Mārtiņš Šmits told the business news portal BNN.

Martins Smits

Latvians tend to panic. They like launching businesses periodically and slightly hysterically. It all started with goods from Poland, cars from Germany, followed with the real estate boom… Now is the time for kebabs. People prefer simple things during the recession – bread and entertainment, which is why I sell kebabs and beer. Similalry, there is a ping pong table in the basement, where people can burn the calories they have just taken in.

Why have there appeared so many kebab cafes in Latvia?

There is a market leader operating for ten years already. And some 5-6 companies that are in the market for several years. Some of them belong to Latvians, the rest – to Turks, Egyptians and Lebanese.

Why exactly now? People travelled to Berlin and tasted kebabs also in 2005.

Kebab Fix has been operating for years already. The greatest challenge lies in raw material – bread and meat. So far no one is offering ready made kebab meat in Latvia. I called Ķekavas putnu fabrika (Ķekavas bird factory) and they were honest about it, simply saying that they are not interested in this and I should purchase the products from Poland. I buy pita bread from an Egyptian who owns a bakery in Latvia. Turkish doner kebab bread can be found only in Poland and Germany. Thus, starting up such a business requires a certain know-how and contacts.

Turkkebab’s owner once told in an interview that Turks are quite crazy, which is why they are not afraid to launch a business, despite crisis. What do you think about this?

Just recently I met a Turkish guy who has opened a strip club in Riga. I totally agree with the Turkkebab’s owner.

How will the crisis affect the kebab sector?

On the one hand labour force costs are lower, on the other hand – the purchasing capacity has dropped. Consequently, also the average sum of a purchase. People consider more, whether they really need to take that coffee or drink it at work for free. However, this applies to all the sector in general.

What is absolutely necessary to conquer the kebab market?

A lot of meat in yours kebabs [laughing]. Public catering is a very sensitive sector. People go somewhere else, if they do not like something or the food is not delicious.

How do you fight the competition? What is your unique sales point?

Our kebabs make you addicted. In a positive sense.

What is your assessment of the quality of kebab cafes in Latvia? Sometimes people say theses cafes lack quality products and do not brag about impeccable service either.

I agree, Latvians are bad waiters. They cannot wait for calling it a day, moreover with a grumpy face. Moreover, mostly they lack common sense on things we usually take for granted.

Do you lack qualified work force?

This work is usually done by young people – students and pupils. The salaries are not big, so their attitudes towards duties vary.

Your cafe was opened in November. What is the profitability of it? When do you plan to break even?

The turnover is considerable. Profitability sets in from the hundredth customer. However, this zero line tends to fluctuate, but along with higher temperatures, the turnover will surge as well. We will also offer kebab delivery by bicycle.

What have been the greatest challenges in developing the business? You did have to close down one of the cafes.

We had certain disagreements with the partner. I still own a half of that company that I am most likely to sell.

Is the state supporting businessmen enough?

Micro-enterprise programme does help to save at the expense of taxes. Of course, some countries do not tax new businesses at all, which is something Latvia cannot afford given the economic conditions.

What are your future plans?

When the activities of the company are stable, I would like to go and check what is going on in China.

Leave a reply

  1. Bil says:

    If the production is of good quality, why not, it is a great business idea.

  2. One says:

    At least its kebab..not hamburger…

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