Suvitcha Paggrasa – founder of Fat Cat – slow food restaurant with organic products.
Q1: What do you appreciate yourself in the business mainly for?
We run this place according to the rule: this restaurant is not up to customers. Our idea of business is that the business choose the customers not the other way around. We live here, this is our house, we create everything that support us first. People complain with stone floor, but we like it, so we keep it. We like this roof, so we keep it. I’m ok if customers don’t like the place and they don’t come here. Only customers that like it have the same idea. And then you run the business with that kind of customers. You are happy, people support. I don’t like people coming and saying: I want to sit on big a chair… I’m sorry I don’t have, but I can recommend another place, because most of businesses here are run by my friends, so we know that if you want to sit on the sofa you can go to that place. If you want to eat vegetarian, I don’t sell vegetarian here but I know Earth Tone just few hundred metres from here. And if someone likes a place like this, my friends send him/her to me. Last 5 years we were stressed because of customers, we tried to follow their wishes. Not anymore. In the end, we live here, we have to feel good here first.
Q2: What is the biggest challenge for you now?
To stay. To live here with this idea. Last year we had a big issue about improving the place. A lot of shops and restaurants in town have to force themselves to improve for customers. Because as you know government turned to be a military government so tourism really went down, we don’t have that much tourists right now. A lot of shops in town try to improve and change to support the need and demands of tourism. The competition is very high. We try to be stable. Not investing too much and try to not make it too bad. Right now we need to organize something more, activities, workshops, to attract more people.
Q3: What advice do you have for yourself in this situation?
We keep it like this. I want to keep it small, maybe smaller than it is now. We tried with a bigger restaurant for many months, we had more tables. It doesn’t make much more money, and it’s so much stress. Because you have so many people at the same time, they don’t have quick service and they won’t come back. Better stay small, everything perfect, people come back all the time. And it’s the same money. Less stress, less tiring.
Would you like to add something more?
We don’t live like… you get the job and you have to move. We choose the place to stay first and then we think what we want to do there. And from what we want to do… can it make money to support our life? If it can, that’s good, but it doesn’t mean we throw everything. We try to make a balance. With what we are doing now we can pay the bills. That’s the success. I work here 6 hours per day. Sometimes 5 hours. That’s it. If I want to close, I close. Tomorrow maybe weather is good, I want to go hiking, I close. It’s freedom. You cannot compare with how much money you earn. A lot of my friends work in the cities right now. They also try to make a balance. But the one thing is that if you have a job you cannot just say: I want holiday for 5 days. It’s impossible. You have something that controls you all the time: hey, come back. Work. You cannot turn off the phone. If something happen: ok, I come back and work right now. But if you have baby as we have, how do you live your life? After school you come back home, no garden, no yard and if you want to go to the forest you have to plan a month before. No, I couldn’t live like that.
The questions were asked on our behalf by Anna and Andrea from How to (ex) change the world.
Pai, Thailand, 3rd June 2016