THE NOODLE TRAIL
As the takeaway scene evolves in Australia, Asian cuisine is taking over the sector.
As the takeaway scene evolves in Australia, Asian cuisine is booming.
Asian cuisine is incredibly popular in western culture, especially in countries such as Australia and the US. With a variety of options available such as sashimi for health-conscious consumers to fried rice and noodles for the less fussy, Asian cuisine really has something for everyone.
According to IbisWorld senior analyst Bao Vuong, international fast food, including Asian takeaway, has gained popularity over the past five years, and these products have consequently increased as a share of industry revenue. Wider awareness of foreign cuisines and consumers being more receptive to trying new foods have supported this growth.
Fast-food companies have faced increasingly strong competition from external sources over the past five years, says Vuong. Supermarkets have expanded their ranges of homecooked meal replacements, and have emerged as one-stop shops that provide consumers with fast, affordable and high-quality food. While many of these products substitute traditional fast food,
consumers prefer takeaway joints that are also sit-down restaurants. Asian food especially has a great popularity with fast-food fanciers who want more variety beyond burgers.
Vuong predicts that in the next five years, increases in household discretionary income are projected to boost sales. Competitive pressures will likely force some players to exit the industry, but this will be offset by an influx of new players in relatively niche markets, such as Asian takeaway.
To gain an insight, Inside Franchise Business had a chat to three Asian takeaway franchises.
Misschu was founded in Sydney in 2009 by Nahji Chu as a catering business specialising in Asian canapés. People walking past the tiny kitchen in Darlinghurst kept knocking on the glass and asking to buy the food, so eventually a “tuckshop” window and bamboo awning were added, and Chu started selling on the street. The brand quickly earned a cult status with daily queues along the footpath.
With a background in private equity, MD Gabi Machado approached Chu in
The major change in the past couple of years has obviously been the mass movement to online ordering and delivery … this has reduced the competitive advantage of being ‘local’ and has really highlighted the importance of brand strength
2010 with the idea of taking her Sydneybased Vietnamese concept to Melbourne. This year Machado joined forces with DC Strategy consultants to expand the Misschu tuckshop network from three to 50 over the next five-plus years. The Misschu team says it is determined to do things differently, growing the business with a “fresh mindset” and ‘”real discipline” to ensure each new location has a genuine feel and atmosphere for employees and customers.
It has not been an easy path. The business entered voluntary administration in 2014, which apparently did not affect the Melbourne and London branches.
Machado says people expect bang for their buck with Asian food, so the value proposition is really important. “The major change in the past couple of years has obviously been the mass movement to online ordering and delivery. In our view, this has reduced the competitive advantage of being ‘local’ to your customer and has really highlighted the importance of brand strength,” he says.
Aesthetics are also important when it comes to choosing property for the Misschu tuckshops. “We look for spaces with character that let us create a unique design with an authentic Misschu feel. Rather than a cookie-cutter approach, we accentuate the individuality of each location and stamp Misschu’s signature on to it,” says Machado.
“To date, the strength of the brand has helped a great deal in negotiations with landlords and we expect this to increase going forward.”
Each Misschu tuckshop typically has 50 to 90 seats. “We are known for our high energy, bustling and fun vibe. The commonalities across the shops are the casual style, fast service, great tunes and the clatter and flames from the wok,” says Machado.
He believes owner-run restaurants typically provide a superior experience for customers because of the total commitment to the success of the business. “The franchise model enables this and provides a fair and structured relationship, when managed well.”
While the menu is Vietnamese inspired, most dishes are unique to Misschu. There is a strong health-conscious bent, incorporating ingredients such as low-carb shirataki noodles, low-GI rice, fresh Atlantic salmon, grassfed beef and olive oil. Most of the menu is gluten free and dairy free, and there are options for vegetarians and vegans.
MONKEY KING THAI
Monkey King Thai is a family-owned business that was one of the first Thai restaurants in Australia. While the business has been around for many years, the franchise model is relatively new.
There are three locations, all in Sydney (Lindfield, Newport and Narrabeen), and while all are company owned, the ball is rolling with potential franchisees.
“Sydneysiders love our Thai food and the Monkey King Thai brand, so we have major expansion plans in place for New
South Wales, including Bondi and Rhodes,” says CEO Top K. Jitrakthaipakdee.
The company is in the early stages of the franchising program but aims to open the five new locations by the end of this year. Other potential locations include lower Sydney, North Shore, the northern beaches, Broadway Shopping Centre, World Square, Top Ryde, Macquarie Centre, and Rouse Hill.
The franchisor says the Asian food sector is highly fragmented and dominated by independent owner/operators. “We have introduced lots of processes, systems and standardised procedures, says Jitrakthaipakdee. “We have an operations manager and head chefs who constantly monitor the quality. This consistency and delivery of high-quality products and experiences ensures we are differentiated in this sector and our franchisees will be well supported.
“While we look for high-traffic sites and seek to partner with other restaurants in a food precinct, we are not reliant on high-rent locations. Ultimately, we are conservative in our site selection and need to ensure our rents are within an acceptable percentage of our sales,” he says.
Described as contemporary and modern, the menu is based on family recipes adjusted to the Australian palate.
A Monkey King Thai restaurant aims to cater for most food intolerances, provide a variety of traditional and authentic dishes, and appeals to families. The group is looking for compassionate and fun franchisees who love being surrounded by friends and family.
Ultimately, we are conservative in our site selection and need to ensure our rents are within an acceptable percentage of our sales.
Soonta’s story began in 2008 when the franchise set up a small shop on Waymouth Street in Adelaide. The mission was simple: eat tasty, eat healthy. Fast forward almost 10 years and the company now has 10 stores around South Australia.
“We only get to eat three meals a day, so it is important those meals make us happy. The way we see it, balance in our life and in our diet is a big part of cultivating happiness. Red Rooster This is where we come in,” says marketing manager Sweet Tang.
“Our Vietnamese-inspired menu is filled to the brim with nourishing and delicious food, all of which is made fresh daily.”
Soonta is proudly South Australian founded and owned, and sources its ingredients locally. The franchise has 10 stores, six of which are franchised. All stores are within South Australia, with the latest outlet in Golden Grove. The company has inquiries from interstate and overseas, and is seeking suitable master franchise partners.
Soonta believes that in order to make good traditional Asian food, a lot of experience in the food industry is essential. Trying for consistency from a secret home recipe is the biggest challenge for the company.
Property prices are a huge cost, and in order to combat this and maintain a margin, the company works on a portfolio mix of products and adjusts prices accordingly.
“It’s quite challenging when you face increasing pressure on operational costs and reduced spending from the demand side: both are a result of high property prices,” says Tang.
Soonta studies its competitors and strives to always be better. “It’s about knowing your weaknesses and strengths to position yourself right,” Tang says.
Our Vietnamese-inspired menu is filled to the brim with nourishing and delicious food, all of which is made fresh daily.
Monkey King Thai