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Thread: Opening a Business in the Russian Provinces

  1. #1
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    Opening a Business in the Russian Provinces

    I don't know much about stuff but I do know about the restaurant industry having worked in that since I was 11 (don't worry, it was just helping out).
    And I can cook.
    So I was thinking about maybe opening an Indian (well Pakistani actually) restaurant, but it has to be Indiski Kuchniya to have a remote chance of taking hold.
    As a kind of dream, out in the provinces, there are suchi bars, there are Kitayski joints, but nothing Indian. Makes you think. My dream is to maybe open an indian restaurant out here. I don't think it's megabucks- it's just my partner is a kill joy and thinks I'd lose everything I ever save up due to corruption, the mafia, bureaucracy etc etc. I don't know... I don't like that level of pessimism.

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    The restaurant business is capital intensive, and it's hard to know if your concept will be successful in advance. But if it's something you enjoy, why not?

    I think corruption would be a problem due to the fact that it's a public-facing business. However, other companies manage, so you should be able to as well. Sometimes being a foreigner can help because you can pretend to not understand what the inspectors are telling you. You've also got your embassy to fall back on in case someone threatens you - nobody, no matter how powerful they are, wants an international scandal on their hands. Russians don't have that kind of protection. But I think it would only be really useful if you're in a city where there is a British embassy.

    Maybe Benedikt can tell you about the regulations, because he's a very experienced chef and has worked in Russia for a long time.

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    Thanks David, it's uplifting to be on this site somehow. Western people even if something is really hard tend to say, "Work on it and maybe you could give it a go."
    That's a bit different from an outright 'nyet'.
    I wud like to work here cos in the winter months especially it might be a bit boring for me and stuff just in the flat alone. I also wudn't mind working in a restauarnt, even if I wud be getting only 10,000 roubles. I wud really be getting experience, studying stuf like supply issues, and customer preferences.
    But yes, I know I have a long way to go. Working wud be a start, however.

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    I'm a chef and spent around 5 years working in the provinces of Russia as well as Moscow.

    Firstly, i don't want to pour cold water on your idea but i'd like to give you my honest opinion. It's free and you don't have to take any notice, do you?

    Indian and especially Pakistani cuisine would be a hard sell to Russians. They're not generally good with spicy and unfamiliar food.
    Are you from the sub continent and do you have experience with that type of food?
    If you were in a large city you might be able to attract enough adventurous customers who would be interested in the novelty factor and come to try it. But my guess is you would be working hard to attract customers and overcome Russian's preconceived ideas and prejudices.
    If you were to go ahead with it, my advice would be to have more familiar dishes on the menu as well. Might be difficult to get a table of four, for example to come if one person didn't fancy Indian food.

    Helping out in a restaurant is very different from owning/running one, especially in a foreign country like Russia.

    If you have a Russian partner it might help to put the business in their name and use them when dealing with the authorities. A lot of what you hear about the mafia is overstated these days.
    Corruption is definitely a issue and that's why i suggest having your partner deal with the official paperwork and negotiations. Bureaucracy is a pain in the a*se in Russia but again, your partner can help with this.
    Think carefully about the concept first before you commit.

    Best of luck.

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    Hi,

    Thanks for sharing your insight. Yes, I am of PK heritage and am familiar with that cuisine and its preparation.
    From my experience, Pakistani-Indian food in the UK is not exactly as we prepare and eat in in South Asia. There's more coloring, more oil, and much less spice, or different combos of spices. It's anglizised asian food for the UK high street. I kid you not... what guys are eating on a Friday night at their local curry house is not exactly what we are eating at home, or in South Asia.
    That wud be me approach to russian customers; not bland, but hearty and tasty.
    I have made some kebab here for guests and they reckoned it was better than shashlik! I think Russians wud like naan bread and tameez, and tandoori is quite mild. I'm not suggesting 'curried pilmini' but i think there are ways to adapt asian food- and that's what's been done in the UK- very successfully.
    But you're right, Russians don't seem to like spicy stuff, so chili chicken might be out.... but baltis wud be ok. Anyhow...
    My experience is both in the kitchen and with clients, taking orders, making sure they're ok and happy. My management experience includes dealing with suppliers, and shift organization as well as handling parties. I'm not saying I'm a Vatel graduate, but I know me way around an Indian-Pakistani restaurant.
    My partner is so so so risk adverse and we have very little money between us but I do feel this idea has potential somehow.

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    Jas, when you arrive to Moscow, visit Darbar restaurant on Leninsky, local Indians recommend it:
    http://www.darbar.ru/contacts.html - where

    Menus:
    http://www.darbar.ru/menu_darbars.pdf
    http://www.darbar.ru/special_menu.pdf

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jas View Post
    Hi,

    Thanks for sharing your insight. Yes, I am of PK heritage and am familiar with that cuisine and its preparation.
    From my experience, Pakistani-Indian food in the UK is not exactly as we prepare and eat in in South Asia. There's more coloring, more oil, and much less spice, or different combos of spices. It's anglizised asian food for the UK high street. I kid you not... what guys are eating on a Friday night at their local curry house is not exactly what we are eating at home, or in South Asia.
    That wud be me approach to russian customers; not bland, but hearty and tasty.
    I have made some kebab here for guests and they reckoned it was better than shashlik! I think Russians wud like naan bread and tameez, and tandoori is quite mild. I'm not suggesting 'curried pilmini' but i think there are ways to adapt asian food- and that's what's been done in the UK- very successfully.
    But you're right, Russians don't seem to like spicy stuff, so chili chicken might be out.... but baltis wud be ok. Anyhow...
    My experience is both in the kitchen and with clients, taking orders, making sure they're ok and happy. My management experience includes dealing with suppliers, and shift organization as well as handling parties. I'm not saying I'm a Vatel graduate, but I know me way around an Indian-Pakistani restaurant.
    My partner is so so so risk adverse and we have very little money between us but I do feel this idea has potential somehow.
    Jas, i agree with you 100% that Indian/Pakistani food prepared and served in the UK bears little resemblance to that served on the subcontinent. I worked in New Delhi so i saw first hand the differences.

    There are definitely similarities between Plov and biriyani as well, for example and the tandoori and grill items could work.
    You obviously know a bit about the cuisine and it's a good idea to stick with what you know but i think you'd still need to market the concept aggressively to make it work.

    In the restaurant business we're not only selling food, the concept is just as important. You'll have to sell the idea of eating in an Indian/Pakistani restaurant to Russians. In my opinion, that's not going to be easy.
    Your experience dealing with customers (do you speak Russian?) will be vital if you're to be successful in selling the idea but if your investing your life savings in the project i would listen to your partner.

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    Andy, yes, I will be sure to visit Darbar when I get to Moscow. I plan to do a kind of survey and check the menus of as many indian restaurants as I can.
    Stuff like decor also..... very important. I envisage lots of South Asian bling:
    some statues, wooden panels, mock gold sidings etc, and even a gold sprayed elephant.
    From my experience, bling, no matter how kitschy really does attract customers.

    Yes, Nobby, I speak Russian. I would want to be close to guests. Back in the UK, I never actually minded the 'dreaded' Fri- Sat 8.30pm-2.30am stint. Most refused it point blank and left it to the guys. You learn a lot though...everything on how to deal with getting groped by a bunch of rugby thugs, to hen parties that turn into cat fights, and ofcourse- drunks who have a hideous tendency to want to lure you into their confidence just as they puke. Can't remember how many times I had to call the police! In the end, our restaurant become a regular police stop, they'd just poke their head in and say, "Any troble, Jas?"
    Not easy in the UK either.... not by any means!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jas View Post
    Andy, yes, I will be sure to visit Darbar when I get to Moscow. I plan to do a kind of survey and check the menus of as many indian restaurants as I can.
    Stuff like decor also..... very important. I envisage lots of South Asian bling:
    some statues, wooden panels, mock gold sidings etc, and even a gold sprayed elephant.
    From my experience, bling, no matter how kitschy really does attract customers.

    Yes, Nobby, I speak Russian. I would want to be close to guests. Back in the UK, I never actually minded the 'dreaded' Fri- Sat 8.30pm-2.30am stint. Most refused it point blank and left it to the guys. You learn a lot though...everything on how to deal with getting groped by a bunch of rugby thugs, to hen parties that turn into cat fights, and ofcourse- drunks who have a hideous tendency to want to lure you into their confidence just as they puke. Can't remember how many times I had to call the police! In the end, our restaurant become a regular police stop, they'd just poke their head in and say, "Any troble, Jas?"
    Not easy in the UK either.... not by any means!!
    Your right, bling sells big time in Russia. The Russians are into 'over the top' interiors. Just don't let your budget run away with it.

    Good idea to visit Indian restaurants in Moscow but remember there is a large Indian community in the city so what you see on the menu might not be truly reflective of what would work in the provinces.

    Can you tell us where you are thinking of opening?

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    .....just thought. Contact a member called Bari on this site. He's Indian, been in Russia since the year dot and he's in the restaurant business. Nice guy too.

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    Hi Nobby,

    I'm in Kazan. I think that's part of the problem cos the place is sort of multicutural but tends to look towards Turkey somehow. That seems to be how they get their required dosage of 'easternism.' One thing I feel sure wud work in Tatarstan is the humble donner kebab!
    But a ''Turkish'' kebab house wasn't exactly what I had in mind...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jas View Post
    Hi Nobby,

    I'm in Kazan. I think that's part of the problem cos the place is sort of multicutural but tends to look towards Turkey somehow. That seems to be how they get their required dosage of 'easternism.' One thing I feel sure wud work in Tatarstan is the humble donner kebab!
    But a ''Turkish'' kebab house wasn't exactly what I had in mind...
    Walk along river and talk to people in that small riverbank cafes. It's like doing step-by-step.
    Or go to some of posh hotels of Kazan' (not just near Kreml' but 400-1000 m apart), talk to chefs, it's like jumping but more risky.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jas View Post
    Hi Nobby,

    I'm in Kazan. I think that's part of the problem cos the place is sort of multicutural but tends to look towards Turkey somehow. That seems to be how they get their required dosage of 'easternism.' One thing I feel sure wud work in Tatarstan is the humble donner kebab!
    But a ''Turkish'' kebab house wasn't exactly what I had in mind...
    Well, at least you're in a beautiful city.
    There are a lot of Muslims in Kazan as i understand and Indian and Pakistani food is Muslim friendly, as you know. Have you thought of offering Halal cuisine?
    Also, there are some Krishnas there too. Not sure exactly what they eat but could be well worth your while contacting these groups.

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    coffee shop/

    russsians love coffee.it would definitely click!













    -------------------------------------------------
    don't cry bec its over,smile bec it happened.

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    There is a Krishna community in Kazan.

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