MAGURO Restaurant:

Issue : Lifestyle
 

Story by Kathleen Pokrud, Honorary columnist

 

 

The food and beverage industry in Thailand has been hit hard by restrictions on dine-in restaurants because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Restaurant revenues have fallen drastically as people work from home and there are few overseas visitors. The Thai Restaurant Association has estimated the sector is losing up to 1.4 billion baht per day under the current restrictions, and about 500,000 workers have lost their jobs. Elite+ recently spoke with Eakkalurk Sangsareedumrong, Chief Executive Officer of MAGURO Japanese Restaurant to learn about how his chain is adjusting its business practices to survive this continuing lockdown.

 

MAGURO Restaurant: Creatively Coping with Covid Restrictions

 

Can you tell us the inspiration for MAGURO?

MAGURO restaurant came from a gathering of four friends six years ago as Japanese food grew in popularity in Thailand. Previously, people believed you need to travel to Japan or dine at a luxury hotel restaurant to enjoy authentic Japanese cuisine. We saw this as an opportunity to create a good Japanese restaurant serving high quality food at an affordable price. We also wanted our customers to be filled with joy, laughter and smiles when they dined with us. We import fish from the best places, like Norway, and offer a wide variety of original sushi dishes. Seasonal Japanese ingredients are imported to create an immensely memorable experience for MAGURO customers. In our organization, we promote the concept of “Give more,” in all positions, from the executives to service staff.

 

MAGURO Restaurant: Creatively Coping with Covid Restrictions

 

Where is the first branch and when did you open the second? Now that the latest branch has opened at Central World, do you plan to open more branches?

We opened our first branch on 27 May 2015 in the retail area of Chic Republic at Bangna Km 4.  Under the concept of “destination location”, we became a neighbourhood restaurant easily accessible in the area. The restaurant has received a lot of positive feedback from the locals with our focus on the best ingredients. There has been a steady queue of customers since we opened. Our second branch opened on Rama III a year later. To date, we have branches all over Bangkok, in Bangna, Rama III, Chaeng Watthana, Ratchapruek district, Ratchada - Rama 9, Siam Square and Central World. Due to the Covid situation, we have slowed our expansion and are waiting till things improve before opening our eleventh branch.

                

MAGURO Restaurant: Creatively Coping with Covid Restrictions

 

We heard you opened a Korean restaurant. Can you tell us about it?

Yes, the first Korean restaurant of the MAGURO GROUP is named “SSamthing Together”. The project started when dining in restaurants was banned. Many employees became jobless, so we had time to try out several new menus. One of these was Korean cuisine, which with the growing popularity of K-drama and K-pop, has also become a favourite. People have turned their attention to Korean food programs as well, so we turned this crisis into an opportunity. We launched our "Korean-style snack delivery in ready-to-eat boxes" under the concept “Korean food with Korean series at home”, or grilled Korean dishes to be enjoyed while watching Korean series or movies at home.   

 

MAGURO Restaurant: Creatively Coping with Covid Restrictions

 

In June 2020, focusing on a “ghost” kitchen and operation, we sent deliveries from five locations around Bangkok. There was no storefront, and based on the relatively satisfactory feedback, we have been able to build on this. We are now preparing to open our first sit-down branch at Mega Bangna. “Ssamthing Together” will be a premium Korean restaurant targeting young people and families who are passionate about Korean culture as well as those looking for Korean food with a real Korean vibe and atmosphere.  

 

MAGURO Restaurant: Creatively Coping with Covid Restrictions

 

How has your business been doing during these trying times?

Our revenue prior to the pandemic was approximately 500 million Baht in 2019, which decreased by 15% last year, but if we analyse the drastic impact that Covid-19 has had on the restaurant industry, we are truly grateful. 

 

MAGURO Restaurant: Creatively Coping with Covid Restrictions

 

We were fortunate as we reacted quickly beginning with the first wave of the pandemic and have worked extremely hard towards alternative means of revenue, including setting up our own delivery platform called MAGURO Go.  Our menu pricing is the same as in-house dining.  

 

MAGURO Restaurant: Creatively Coping with Covid Restrictions

 

We have also explored and introduced a “cooked menu” to tackle the period when salmon, our most popular food, was facing an unhygienic issue globally. We worked to ensure our customers that all our imported fish were certified by professional and respected organizations. In addition, we launched our new Korean brand, “SSAMTHING TOGETHER” last year to expand our customer segmentation with successful results.

 

MAGURO Restaurant: Creatively Coping with Covid Restrictions

 

Tell us about your Cloud Kitchen to alleviate the restrictions?

With the temporary challenges of delivery and take away from restaurants in shopping centres, we have been quite fortunate that our bigger branches are located as either a stand-alone outlet or attached to a retail store. So, we are still permitted to open these branches. For our Cloud Kitchen, we have discussed expanding new branches and brands in the Cloud Kitchen format as we see this as another great opportunity to expand to new locations.  

 

MAGURO Restaurant: Creatively Coping with Covid Restrictions

 

What changes in marketing have you made because of Covid?

As people are obliged to stay at home more, digital platforms have become a main method of communication with our customers and friends. We heavily emphasize the non-promotional side of the marketing sphere, focusing more on the safety of our products and staff, plus making sure our customers are fully satisfied with the meal they receive from MAGURO. 

 

MAGURO Restaurant: Creatively Coping with Covid Restrictions

 

We always seek to find the most appropriate menus to suit the needs of our customers. We have recently introduced our Home Box series that comprises a variety of premium sushi boxes at prices ranging from 400 to 2800 Baht. We have also begun highlighting our new “All Day Menu” where we select different menus for different times of the day, whether it be Japanese-style boiled rice, “Zosui”, for early morning or late night as well as quick and budget-friendly Donburi, starting at just 120 Baht for an easy-going lunch and dinner. 

 

MAGURO Restaurant: Creatively Coping with Covid Restrictions

 

Before we conclude our interview, can you tell us about your background? What do you like to do in your spare time?

I graduated with a Master’s degree in International Business from the University of Wollongong in Sydney, Australia and Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, majoring in advertising, from Assumption University in Bangkok. 

 

MAGURO Restaurant: Creatively Coping with Covid Restrictions

 

Presently, I have very little free time.  Most of it is spent at work, attending important meetings and business education events almost every day. If I have free time during the day, I will relax by reading articles on the Internet. I enjoy traveling to different places, discovering delicious restaurants, both domestically and internationally, to enhance my life experiences.

 

MAGURO Restaurant: Creatively Coping with Covid Restrictions

 

MAGURO Restaurant: Creatively Coping with Covid Restrictions

 

MAGURO Restaurant: Creatively Coping with Covid Restrictions

 

MAGURO Restaurant: Creatively Coping with Covid Restrictions

 

MAGURO Restaurant: Creatively Coping with Covid Restrictions

 

MAGURO Restaurant: Creatively Coping with Covid Restrictions

 

MAGURO Restaurant: Creatively Coping with Covid Restrictions

 

MAGURO Restaurant: Creatively Coping with Covid Restrictions

 

MAGURO Restaurant: Creatively Coping with Covid Restrictions

 

MAGURO Restaurant: Creatively Coping with Covid Restrictions

 

MAGURO Restaurant: Creatively Coping with Covid Restrictions

 

MAGURO Restaurant: Creatively Coping with Covid Restrictions

 
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