PARK CAFE: AN ICONIC CAM­BO­DIAN RESTAU­RANT CHAIN

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It was in 2008 when Ph­nom Penh res­i­dent Chan Piseth started to take more care about eat­ing safely pre­pared food after a dis­cus­sion with his new neigh­bour, the owner of a cater­ing busi­ness.

The cater­ing busi­ness­man told him that used oil from wed­ding par­ties is of­ten sold on to small restau­rants in Ph­nom Penh, after which it is again reused by smaller eater­ies, then fi­nally sold for use by street food ven­dors. For about a decade, Piseth has rou­tinely eaten break­fast and lunch at Park Café – where he trusts that he will re­ceive qual­ity and safe food.

Thou­sands of peo­ple in Ph­nom Penh are hav­ing a sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ence to Piseth. News about food scandals hit­ting the na­tion’s food sup­ply chains has made con­sumers con­cerned about safety. When peo­ple have the money, they are will­ing to pay higher prices for safer and more healthy food op­tions where the qual­ity is guar­an­teed.

As it has earned con­fi­dence from con­sumers, Park Café en­larges its op­er­a­tions an­nu­ally. While it had one branch in 2004, Park Café now has ten branches across the city and pro­vides jobs for about 350 Cam­bo­dian peo­ple. The num­ber of con­sumers in­creased from 2,000 daily cus­tomers in 2014 to nearly 3,000 per day to­day.

Heng Sengly, gen­eral man­ager of Park Café, said his restau­rant serves MSG-free food and fol­lows the Haz­ard Anal­y­sis Crit­i­cal Con­trol Points (HACCP) food prepa­ra­tion man­age­ment sys­tem from United King­dom.

“Good health is main fac­tor for peo­ple’s suc­cés – that is why we build trust among our cus­tomers by guar­an­tee­ing that our food is safe and healthy,” he said, adding that ma­jor­ity of Park Café’s clients are of­fice staff, gov­ern­ment of­fi­cers, and busi­ness peo­ple who use the place to eat and net­work. “We con­tinue to grow ev­ery year and our cus­tomers also ex­pe­ri­ence growth.”

Park Café’s op­er­a­tions are big­ger than ever and tend to­ward the more pro­fes­sional in the in­dus­try. The firm has its own pro­fes­sional train­ing cen­tre to be sure that all staff at Park Café are skilled in an in­dus­try con­text and pro­fes­sional in their work. Park Café is also on its way to of­fer­ing fran­chises for lo­cal mar­ket. Sengly said there will be five branches of Park Café op­er­ate un­der fran­chisees by early 2017. Park Café will open two more branches next year, bring­ing the to­tal num­ber of out­lets to 17 in 2017.

Mean­while, among con­sumers such as Chan Piseth, the trend to eat safe food will only in­crease, and food safety will be­come a greater pri­or­ity. “I dare to spend a lit­tle bit more on qual­ity food from re­li­able sources rather than ig­nore food safety and spend money on med­i­cal bills,” he said.

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