Chef stuck in the red comes up with a bottler
To get out of debt, chef Martin Bosley has been forced to come up with new ways of creating revenue streams outside the running of his namesake restaurant.
The award-winning chef fell on hard times during last year's winter when Wellington diners tightened purse strings. The Dominion Post reported in December that, owing money to ingredient suppliers, the restaurant became a cash-on-delivery only customer. Bosley said business had been picking up but it would be at least another 18 months before the Oriental Pde eatery was back in the black.
To bring in extra funds, he will be selling condiments, cookware and high-end home-delivery gourmet meals through a website called Bosley's Pantry.
"It's definitely forced me to think a lot differently, more like a businessman than a chef, restaurateur or host," Bosley said. The e-commerce website is a joint venture with a business partner who helped fund the "several thousand dollars and a lot of time" development of the website, sharing profits from online sales.
"We had to really shift our thinking around here in terms of the dynamics because it was such a departure from running a restaurant.
"Restaurants are fixed income: there are 10 tables, you can seat 40 people, that's it. Bringing another revenue stream like this in is fantastic."
The website sells 250ml and 500ml bottles of his "cult classic" Palm Sugar dressing used on salads at the restaurant and brown Marty's Sauce perfected at the City Market he co-founded. "That's the sauce I put on the bacon sandwiches that are pretty famous down at the markets."
Lemon syrup was from an old family recipe. Mediterranean and Asian spice mixes and his Nam Jim sauce, "the perfect balance between sweet, sour and salty", would be introduced in coming weeks.
Margins online were "good" because he manufactured and sold them directly for the same price, $12.50 for 250ml, that gourmet stores Farro Fresh and Sabato had his sauces on the shelf for. Sleeve-style labels secured with a rubber band and hand-dated with batch numbers, conveyed the "cottage industry" feel that Bosley wanted to communicate.
Towards the end of the year branded pots and pans made in China would be sold on the website. Bosley was going through the process of creating what he considered the ideal stainless steel, heavy-bottomed pan that could be used on gas as well as induction.
"I'm not a fan of non-stick or the whole disposable nature of those cheap pans. People just throw it in to the bin then drive down to Briscoes and get another one if they're scratched. I don't think that is a very good use of resources. Frying pans become better with time as they become well loved and well used, so I wanted something that is going to last."
In about two months he would launch online ordering for overnight home-delivery meals for two, including ox tail, duck, lamb shanks and the chocolate terrine he has had on menus for decades.
"We're just looking at packaging now . . . it's not being mass-produced in a manufacturing plant. It's being cooked with care by chefs, made right here in this kitchen."
Bosley said he had made significant in-roads on debts incurred and that he had never been behind on rent.
The Dominion Post