Since the late 70s, the burgeoning number of restaurants has had a strong presence on the city’s food map. With the growing dining culture, B360 spoke with some of the capital’s ace restaurateurs on their business, challenges and success mantra. Excerpts:
Rum Doodle Bar & Restaurant pays tribute to the spirit of mountaineering. Established in 1979, the name Rum Doodle origins from the novel The Ascent of Rum Doodle by W.E. Bowman. An iconic landmark in the food business, here’s what Owner Ashok Pokharel has to say:
What is the story behind Rum Doodle?
Rum Doodle started out as an adventurers’ hangout. How it came into existence is a story in itself. In the late 70’s, my family was in the adventure business which we still are in and we felt the acute requirement of a restaurant which would diligently cater to mountaineers with full portion meals. Hence, my father along with his friends came up with the idea of an adventure-themed restaurant and named it ‘Rum Doodle’. The yeti footprints also have a story. One day, Sir Edward Hillary was in town and he dropped by. He signed on a piece of plywood and we stuck it behind the bar. Since then the bandwagon followed.
In today’s context, is the restaurant business more about experience than the food?
In Nepal, there is a fixed number of people who would go out regularly to wine and dine. On the other hand, every time a new restaurant turns up, the crowd shifts. This way the footfall fluctuates on the basis of newer experiences being offered.
What are the challenges in terms of surviving in the market and growing business?
Price sensitivity of the clientele is the biggest challenge. This is also one of the reasons why we moved from Thamel to Naxal. Thamel was becoming too expensive as far as the rent was concerned. Even for a third floor, we were paying a hefty amount. Also, after the earthquake we were closed for a month and for the other seven months we were sitting idle. So, we wrapped up the operations in Thamel and moved to a smaller place here.
What has been a significant change in the food market over the years?
The ingredients available then and the ingredients available now are totally different. In the earlier days, when we used to talk about cheese, it used to be yak cheese and that was it. Now you can buy a basket full of cheese. Also, competition is much more cutthroat now. There’s a restaurant in every second house.
What has been your success mantra?
The adventure theme is our USP. And our success mantra lies in responding to the needs of the customers.