Myanmar-born Pote Lee will open the first branch of his upscale restaurant Water Library in his homeland after launching the first two branches in Bangkok in 2008 and 2012.
Scheduled to open by the end of this month, Water Library has been developed in a 100-year-old colonial mansion on Manawhari Road in Yangon, the same street as the Thai embassy.
Some have questioned whether the fine-dining restaurant, which will target high-end locals and foreign investors, would fit the society there. Oliver Kramny, general manager of food and beverage for Water Library Chamchuri Square, is certain that the locals will like exclusive dishes that differ from local food.
“The key factors of Water Library, namely great quality food, high-level service and personal service, will be there, but the menu will be different, depending on the environment and the chef,” said Kramny, who also oversees the Yangon branch.
Featuring on the menu will be internationally flavoured dishes made with mostly high-quality local ingredients with some imported items such as certain types of meat and seafood.
“Our supplier works together with our chef to improve the quality of local ingredients by, for example, educating farmers to feed their chickens in a certain way so that we can have special and fresh locally produced ingredients,” said Kramny, who believes that this will be a key advantage for the restaurant.
From the first day of signing the lease to the house till the opening has taken about one year.
The process started with finding a business partner who could help the company find the prime location, then went on to selecting a good chef and sous chef who share the philosophy of the restaurant, are willing to learn, plus train the staff, to finding qualified employees.
The outstanding features of Myanmar’s young generation, who the restaurant recruited, are that they are hungry to learn and have a great attitude.
However, training could be quite a challenge, as some of them have never worked in a kitchen or only have little knowledge and there can also be some language barriers.
“The key is you have the people to teach and you find people with a good attitude to take that knowledge,” he said.
Besides training, construction is also a challenge due to the limited knowledge of construction workers.
The cost for this branch including the renovation work is about US$1 million.
To build a presence in Myanmar, Water Library Yangon will focus on the quality of food, service, environment and most importantly, “word of mouth”.
“When we open, we will just look at our sales. We will not focus too much on the competition but how we can make every one of our guests happy,” he said.
As the market is likely to become more competitive in the near future, Water Library Yangon has already designed a strategy to cement its position in the market.
“Our advantage is we are one of the first fine-dining restaurants in Myanmar and we can establish ourselves in the market. We need to provide the best food, service and reasonable prices,” he said.
Once the brand is recognised, it can be used to push other concepts such as an all-day dining restaurant or bakery.
The company is planning to open two more restaurants in Yangon that will not be fine dining like Water Library. They will also have other names. Water Library Yangon will be the only one in Myanmar.
With another partner, the company is setting up three restaurants, ranging from an easy-going coffee shop to an Italian-style restaurant in Bagan. These six outlets, which include the Water Library in Myanmar, are expected to be completely in place by the middle of next year.
Source: The Nation Thailand