Food O'Clock

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Pancake Parlour

14 March 2022

So much to celebrate during the month of March… women’s day, pancake day and where else to do so if not at Pancake Parlour? Whether it’s sweet or savory, for breakfast, as an afternoon treat or an evening delicacy to wrap up a long day, it’s always pancake o’clock at Pancake Parlour!


We reached out to Alexandra Bult, one of the restaurant owners who describes herself as hardworking, determined and strong headed. Apart from being in love with the catering industry, she also loves chasing sunsets, going for walks and exploring new places. Read the whole interview to learn more about the concept of Pancake Parlour!


 

Tell us about yourself. What’s your story and what lured you into the restaurant industry?


My name is Alexandra, I am 25 years old and I got into the catering industry when I was 15 years old. I was looking for a summer job and my mother suggested I get into catering, so I started working at a hotel close to home. It helped me improve my social skills as I used to be very shy, and it improved my day-to-day life. Every time I tried looking for different jobs, I always ended up back in catering. I guess it grew close to my heart. After 9 years my partner and I, decided to take the plunge and start our own business in catering, offering a service we have been used to but with a touch of our own.


Food is a common language. What are three skills needed to be a successful restauranteur?


Time management is definitely the main ingredient in being a restauranteur, as it is needed in everything you do on a daily basis, from orders, to selecting what’s your main priority at any time. Communication, in my opinion, is another important asset. It is required to interact both with the customer and your team members. Without good communication a lot of mistakes can be made. It comes in handy at all times, for example while taking orders, to promote the specials you have for the day or on your menu and while preparing orders. Attention to detail is another important factor. If a client has allergies you need to be careful to avoid cross contamination that might affect them in a very bad way. It is also required when you come up with a new item for the menu to make it look good and taste good.


Can you describe your typical day?


My day starts at 6.30 a.m. when I wake up, shower and get ready for work. Once I walk through the door at the restaurant, I proceed with what we call the opening procedure. This requires turning on the lights and opening the blinds, wiping down the surfaces and setting up working stations. Lastly we set up the tables outside. At 8 a.m. we start welcoming people for coffees and breakfast, followed by lunch. On most days during the morning service, we receive orders of fruit and vegetables, bread, milk and other things needed for the orders of that week. At around 2 p.m. we close the place to have a rest and gain more energy for the evening shift. We then proceed to open again at 5 p.m. where the menu changes to focus mainly on pancakes, but we also offer salads and bao buns. During the day we would also need to do the food preparation for certain items on the menu, like the pancake mix and cakes. At around 9:30 pm the kitchen closes and we start the closing procedure, that includes wiping down all surfaces, sweeping and washing the floor, reconciling the cash and putting everything back in order to start the next day.


What are the biggest challenges for aspiring restaurant owners?


At the time being one of the biggest challenges in the industry is finding members of staff. Before the pandemic hit you would go through quite a lot of applications for open positions, while now you can barely find one person applying for these jobs since every industry is looking for staff members. Thus applicants can be very picky as to which industry they would like to contribute to and where they would like to work.

I believe that the second biggest challenge is the rising food costs and costs of other essentials and utilities. Yet another challenge that the pandemic brought with it. There are issues with transport and shipping, while some farmers also ended up throwing most of their produce away since there wasn’t enough demand to meet the supply. Transportation cost have gone through the roof, and even the products themselves increase in price on a day-to-day basis. Some items today cost three times what they used to cost a year ago.


The hospitality industry can be quite stressful. How do you organize, plan and prioritize your work?


I love to stay organised by making a to do list. This helps me stress less as I do not have to keep rethinking my tasks and have to worry about forgetting something, I jot the to do list on a piece of paper. If I remember anything during the day I add it to my list and once the task is completed, I cross it off the list. Something that can help your to do list is to prioritise the items on the list to see what is more urgent and what can be left for a later time.

Setting deadlines on tasks helps to get them done sooner, but make sure the deadline is realistic or you end up putting more pressure on yourself. It is also important to take everything one step at a time to avoid stressing that you have a lot of things left pending. It is also important to put away any distractions and make sure you focus on the task you have in front of you. At the end of the day, time management is one of the most important things while carrying out any work. There is time for everything and that’s why prioritising your work will help getting things done and out of your way. It makes life less stressful as you will know where you stand.


Dining out does not only fulfil a need, but is above all a social and leisurely experience. What is your restaurant’s vision when it comes to satisfying customer’s needs?


I believe that there are a few factors that are needed to satisfy customers’ needs while dining out. A customer always seeks value for money. People also look for a great dining experience that tickles their taste buds and keeps them wanting more. Other factors like speed, attention from staff members, as well as a pleasant, welcoming and comfortable atmosphere also play their part.





Looking back at your entrepreneurial journey so far, if you could do one thing differently, what would it be?


If I could do anything different in this journey it would be for me to not compare myself to others. Every person in the industry is playing at a different level of the same game. If you’re going to compare yourself to others, you are just going to put a lot of pressure on yourself and you’ll never be good enough. Instead, you should focus on yourself and what you’re capable of doing. Monitor your own progress and you will see a big difference from the first day. One other piece of advice is to do your best to learn from the greatest people in your line of work.


What is your proudest moment as a restaurant owner?


My proudest moment has to be when we opened our restaurant. During the pandemic, for nearly a year, we used to work from a kitchen offering takeaway and delivery service only. Once restrictions started to lift people shifted their interest from takeaways and deliveries to dining out in restaurants. We spent quite some time discussing what we really wanted not only between ourselves but also sought advice from our family. We looked at several restaurants and offerings before we found the place that was suitable for us. Once we found it, we spent a few weeks working hard to get the place to the standards that we wanted. Finally, we opened the doors to start welcoming people for a different experience to the one we used to offer before.

My proudest moment was having a vision of the enterprise and making it come to life.

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