Chef’s Table, one of the most successful names in the F&B scenario of Bangladesh, which also is the first one of its kind. Dwellers of Dhaka city started to relish on multi-cuisine food locations and make a memoir of experiences since its establishment.
While Murtoza Zaman, the CEO of Unimart Holding immersed though the success of Chef’s Table, he also let us sneak into his transition of being a retail professional from a Banker. It was four years ago when Murtoza Zaman made his shift from the banking sector. That time he was working with Standard Chartered Bank. After 14 years in the banking industry, Murtoza discovered his newfound interest in the rapidly changing retail business.
In our conversation with Murtoza Zaman, he walked us through Chef’s Table’s success, business model and future ventures.
Tell us about the inspiration behind Chef’s Table.
Multi-cuisine food locations were not something Dhaka could be proud of. The few locations we had in Dhaka lacked quality, assortment, and ambiance. We wanted to create something to fill in that space. The foodscape in our neighboring countries has seen a great transformation and a new generation of food entrepreneurs are doing the same in our own F&B industry. Chef’s Table was inspired to create an exciting address for great food, fun and quality.
What does Chef’s Table offer to its customers?
In July 2018, Chef’s Table Gulshan opened its doors. The basic things we wanted to ensure started with the assurance of hygiene. We created open kitchens where the customers can see precisely how the food is being cooked. Our aim was to create a cozy and inviting ambiance for a great time out. It is great to see that our locations are visited by large groups where everyone in the family is included. It is also frequented for friendly hangouts and by corporate groups looking for a great time.
We took great care in choosing the participating brands. The assortment is curated to bring the best F&B experience for our guests. We preferred brands where the owners are directly involved in the daily operation of their businesses which helps to assure the quality and standard.
What is your approach to maintaining food quality and hygiene?
Food safety and hygiene have always been at the top of our promises at Chef’s Table. The kitchens were designed to ensure maximum operating space with required facilities for ensuring convenient working space for the staff. The open kitchens offered visibility to satisfy the guests.
We have our own standard operating procedures (SOP) and Quality standards, for all participating brands to comply with. Regular inspections are carried out to detect and rectify any deviation from the SOP. We also cooperate with relevant government agencies for maintaining industry-standard in operations.
Furthermore, having Unimart under the same management makes it easier for us to maintain the supply chain and ensure proper quality and assurance. Chef’s Table is not merely a business for us, it has become a passion and social engagement for the Group.
How did you manage to take the authority to maintain standards?
Rather than advertising the space or just renting it out, we initially sat together, chalked out a proper plan, and decided which brands we wished to work with. After conducting our primary research, we came to a consensus on the brands that hold ideas similar to ours and approached them. This philosophy applies to all the outlets of Chef’s Table. We take into account the credentials and most brands working with us are family brands. Here one can find the owners to be cooking themselves, which enables us to have strong authority over the whole process. At Chef’s Table, the consumers will never have to face the irritable counter guys introducing offers or discounts to them. Our SOP prohibit the staff members from creating any sort of discomfort for the customers. In the case of hygiene, our brands take great care to choose the best ingredients and processes to ensure compliance. Regular inspection by the Operation Team also reciprocates the effort.
What was the initial response to Chef’s Table?
When it comes to customers’ responses, the most overwhelming factor is that many consider us to be the first-ever proper food court in Bangladesh. Our customers cherished the large spaces, brand choices and the overall conveniences created by Chef’s Table. The most notable responses came for Chef’s Table Court-side in United City which was opened in December 2019. Along with the great food options, it offered loads of outdoor experience, which our customers appreciated a lot.
Interestingly, we received skeptical feedback from many brands. They took time to understand the concept and agree to it. The challenge was to develop the SOP for a very diverse group of entrepreneurs to ensure a common standard.
How do you act on customer feedback and how do you approach the issues?
Our customers can reach us through several options, both online and offline, for any feedback and we treasure those with all sincerity. Feedback are taken into consideration for necessary rectification and improvement. To ensure better customer experience, we have been planning to add further options for our customers to reach us more conveniently.
At Chef’s Table, we do not believe in self-promotion, rather we believe in word of mouth – we leave it to our customers to express their true opinions on us. We never opted for price competition, as it is the element that leads to compromise with the quality. Chef’s Table always strives for quality, transparency, and assurance.
What are the plans for Chef’s Table in the future?
Keeping in mind the future of Chef’s Table, we wish to make things more exciting and convenient for our customers. We want the next destinations to be offering the same basic values along with newer concepts and options. Chef’s Table will continue to offer a global standard platform to explore and promote the food landscape of Bangladesh.
Interview transcribed by Rawnak Tahnia and Yamin Rahman