When it comes to restaurants, what’s the secret ingredient that guarantees longevity?
I found myself thinking about it on two separate occasions recently…
I’ll start with the second, one that’s a bit closer to home… or more correctly, is home.
On a short visit to Goa over the Eid holidays this past week, I found myself (as I often do when I go home) sitting in the corner of our family restaurant Longuinhos, happily making my way through a plate of sausage rolls, prawn patties and croquettes. It’s something I remember doing all my life. It’s something I’ve heard my father and uncles say they’ve done all their lives. It’s probably something my grandfather –who opened the restaurant and whose photo still adorns the wall behind the counter – probably did for a large part of his.
Our restaurant is 63 years old. And it’s still much the same as I remember it from the time I was too little to look over the top of the till. It looks much the same as it did from pictures taken at dinner parties in the 60s and 70s – an old-school colonial-era restaurant, a little rough around the ages, but with an easy and timeless charm. And I think, in a world of characterless glass buildings and identikit Starbucks outlets, that’s a good thing.
Owing to its location bang in the centre of town, there’s hardly a minute that passes by during a morning where you won’t see someone drop into Longuinhos for a chat and a bite, exchanging the latest bits of news on everything and everyone over a hot croquette.
It got me thinking? What is it that’s kept people coming through those doors for 63 years? Is it the consistency of the food? Location? Continuity of management? Familiarity? A happy mix of all of the above? Would it have worked without one or the other?
Funnily enough, I’d found myself thinking about the same things only a few days ago when I attended the 10th anniversary celebrations of PAUL Arabia.
I’ve been to a lot of PAULs – I’ve supped on my fair share of onion soups in their delicious edible bread bowls, have devoured numerous slices of mille-feuille and have tucked into more salads and tarts than I care to count. I’ve been to PAUL in the UAE, in Beirut and in France, the country the famous boulangerie and patisserie originally hails from.
So while already a fan, I was still pleasantly surprised that a chain this big still looks at itself primarily as a family-run business, proud of its heritage, concerned about consistency, close to its customers.
Maxime Holder, Chairman of PAUL International, took to the stage talking about his father and his sons, and how they were busy preparing themselves to join him in running the company. It was a speech that focused less on financial success and more on longevity, continuity, and an adherence to quality, tradition and all the other ingredients that had helped make the company the success it is today.
It was a good speech… and a good evening. Here are a few highlights:
Named Best Blog for Food & Travel
Top 10 UAE Food Blogs in UAE