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:
Opened in 1995, the pizzeria has become a dining staple in Kathmandu, especially for the small expatriate community and Nepali pizza enthusiasts. Managing Director Anna Maria Forgione has created a place that people love to go back to and don’t mind standing in a queue to get in.
What is the story behind Fire and Ice?
I had been living in Kathmandu for seven years. I loved living in Nepal due to the best mild weather in the world. I was happy and content. I missed my country, Italy and felt that the authenticity of the Italian food sold in the Nepali market could be improved. In 1993, I began to sell my special tomato sauce at a farmers’ market at the Summit Hotel in Patan. After a while, I had customers awaiting my arrival to buy the tomato sauce. It was during that time I began imagining creating and running a public place where travellers could meet, have healthy and homely cooked meals before going onto their climbs. And it happened!
In today’s context, is the restaurant business more about experience than the food?
Perhaps. Food can add or detract from the overall dining experience. However it also differs greatly by the mood of each customer. The atmosphere, energy, quality of the food served with competence, cocktail, etc certainly add to the entire experience.
What are the challenges in terms of surviving in the market and growing business?
Once you reach a ‘brand’ status, it is tough to stay at the same level. But there is no choice. Hard work and motivation for everyone working together as a team is the winning ticket. Another is being flexible with the menu to accommodate some dietary requirements. Today, there are many new diets which must be catered for as some guests require gluten free, dairy free, fat-free, organic, etc. Above all, knowledgeable waiters, friendly staff and a reliable Wi-Fi is a must.
Observing the food scene over the years, where deos Kathmandu stand?
Kathmandu is always up for trying new things. Being the main tourist hub, it has to keep up with the changing times as well as keeping true to the Nepali traditions and culture that makes it unique.
What has been your success mantra?
Love and passion for what you do is the essence of success. It’s not a secret. When I started my business, I never thought about money and how much I would earn. I armed myself with all the love I had in my heart and the fuel of passion that my heart wanted to create and I got on with it.