Returning To My Roots: From Hamodrakas Restaurant Back To The HoReCa Industry
This article is going to be a little different than the previous ones. The focus is more about sharing with you my personal story than writing about a specific topic around Product Management.
I actually did not see it coming so soon, me getting into the HoRECa industry (again!), even though it never really got out of my system.
The irony to this story is that as a child I remember waiting outside of MAKRO while my parents were shopping for our restaurant, since you were not allowed to enter unless you were over 18.
It feels like I made the golden circle, ending up in currently leading one of our tribes at Metro Markets that is deep diving into understanding and serving the restauranteurs, hoteliers and coffee owners and their needs in their day to day business routine. I guess some things are just meant to be.
Hamodrakas Seafood Restaurant
Coming from a background with a family restaurant in my hometown Thessaloniki with a history of 95 years, all my childhood memories are basically in that place. It is one of the typically cases where a restaurant goes from generation to generation.
I had a somewhat strict father you could say that always wanted me to stick around and understand how money is earned from a very early age. I can proudly say I have served my duty since the age of 5 years old all the way till 21 which was when I basically moved abroad.
I rotated in all positions from doing the dishes in the kitchen, to washing the wine glasses with my grandfather, handling the invoices, checking our inventory, taking customer orders, all the way to “marking” the ordered dishes and ensuring they go to the right table.
This of course does not include all the times I was following my dad on special events like weddings, caterings and so on, helping out with the preparations and necessary decorations.
In one way or another I am still occasionally helping out, primarily with our social media presence, promoting our restaurant to literally every person I know that is visiting Greece as well as sharing interesting concepts we can try out from all the places I visit.
A Restauranteur Has Lots Of Purchasing Needs
Depending on the size and type of your restaurant, your purchasing needs may differ. However, regardless of volume, those purchasing needs can be split in 4 main categories:
- Single purchase: Optimizing your huge basket because you have a special Christmas event with a specific menu and expect 200 customers.
- Recurring purchases: Those are typically needed on a regular basis, independent from the number of customers you served. Think of cleaning supplies, office supplies, napkins, products like bread etc.
- Investment purchases: Involve a higher cost when there is the need to buy expensive equipment that you do not typically buy every day like a new professional dish washer, a new oven etc.
- Tailor made purchases: Very unique to the restaurant’s needs such as a corner table that would look perfect in front of the fireplace, staff and chef uniforms with your logo on them, branded plates etc.
The Life Of A Restaurant Owner
One thing that definitely stands out when being in the restaurant business is that your personal life is very much blended with your professional routine, inevitably. Whoever tells you it is not it is definitely a lie!
It very often starts to feel that your business is your primary home, where all the family members gather to spend time with each other. At least that was definitely the deal if I wanted to see my dad
There is also a very fine line that you should never cross, the one of bringing the shit and all the stress you are dealing with at home like the bills, customer complains, the delivery that was brought 2 hours later and we could not work properly etc.
Below as some typical things characterizing the lifestyle of a restauranteur:
- Married to the business
- Crazy long hours
- No such thing as a bad day because guess what: customers expect you to smile all the time, every day
- Patience is limited and time is money
- Stay innovative: Since people will keep eating and trying out different places, you need to keep your eyes open and adapt to keep them coming
- Juggle 100+ things as there is so much to keep track of
- Want to be heard and understood: They are killing themselves to have all of the customers happy so next time you see the place full and everyone running around, don’t rush to complain that you are still waiting for that Coke you ordered half a minute ago
- Build loyal relationships and trust with suppliers and customers
And yes you make money, lots of it, potentially way more than you would make as a full-time employee in a lifetime but you are sacrificing a lot like: Summer time, weekends, Christmas time with your loved ones, vacation time as you find yourself on the phone most of the time and a hell of a headache when you need to serve 100 customers to break even and you have had 5 since this morning.
So it is rewarding and you need to like it in order to remain sane but if you ask me, you are also aging way faster
The Buyer Tribe at Metro Markets
So now it’s time to see how all this comes together in my current role.
At Metro Markets, we are building the largest online HoReCa marketplace in Europe that will enable buyers to delight their customers by providing all the right products in one place.
Having experienced how buyers think already, knowing their frustrations, lifestyle and needs, is a true weapon and mega beneficial in positioning and understanding them deeply.
This for me is key to every role: Putting yourself in your customers’ shoes. It is the only way we can build a product experience that we are proud of.
On top of that what I can definitely admit is that your passions and where you come from, shape who you eventually become.
I can certainly say there is quite an adventurous journey ahead of us, full of surprises that I am looking forward to unravel.