Q&A with misschu's Gabi Machado

Find out more about the history, goals and processes for misschu.

1. Could you tell us about how your business got started?

“misschu was founded in 2009 by Nahji Chu as a catering business, specialising in Asian canapes. 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 Nahji started selling on to the street. The brand quickly earned a cult status with a daily queue up the footpath.

 In 2010, I formed a partnership to open the second misschu tuckshop in Melbourne. Kano Hollamby joined the team for this project and has been the driver of the interior and graphic design elements of the brand ever since.”

 

2. How many stores do you have? How many are franchised/ owned?

3 stores

 

3. Where are you current stores located? Do you have any new stores coming up?

 

Melbourne CBD

South Melbourne

South Yarra

 

4. Any expansion plans/ exciting news?

“We are really excited about the opportunity to expand, with new stores initially on the horizon in Victoria and plans to enter other states in the near future, including a return to the Sydney market!”

 

5. Could you tell us about the challenges in the asian/fast food sector?

“People expect bang for their buck with Asian food, so the value proposition is really important. The major change in the last 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.”

 

6. How do you deal with labour costs/ costs of goods/ penalty rates?

“We obviously watch these costs very closely. We use a rostering system and we roster to weekly budgets. We regularly re-examine our supply chain to ensure that we are getting the best quality product for the best price.”

 

7. What kind of locations do you look for? How do you deal with high property prices?

“We look for spaces with character that allow us to 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 top. To date, the strength of the brand has helped a great deal in negotiations with landlords and we only expect this to increase going forward.”

 

8. How do you do food delivery?

“Delivery is a reasonably big part of our business as our food travels very well. We partner with UberEats and Deliveroo and we also do our own delivery from some locations.”

 

9. Could you tell us about your menu?

“Our menu is Vietnamese inspired but most dishes are unique to misschu. We have a reasonably strong health-conscious bent, incorporating ingredients such as low carb shirataki noodles, low GI rice, fresh Atlantic salmon, grass-fed beef and we use olive oil in our woks and marinades. Most of our menu is gluten free and dairy free and we have lots of options for vegetarians and vegans.”

 

10. Talk us through one of your restaurants?

“Each misschu tuckshop has its own unique design and typically between 50 to 90 seats. We are known for our high energy, bustly and fun vibe. The commonalities across the shops are the casual style, fast service, great tunes and the clatter and flames from the wok.”

 

11. Are you or have you tried to change your model at all- if so why?

“When we brought the concept to Melbourne, we introduced a dining room and bar to complement the takeaway and delivery trade. The climate in Melbourne is so different to Sydney so we knew that a street-seating only concept was not going to work the same way here. We continue to look at new formats for misschu and tweaks to existing formats to bring more individuality and further efficiencies.”

 

12.Why did you choose to franchise?
“We believe that owner-operator restaurants typically provide a superior experience for customers because the operator is totally vested in the success of the business. The franchise model enables this and provides a fair and structured relationship, when managed well. We love the misschu business and are excited to be able to offer this opportunity to others who share the same passion for hospitality and food as we do.”

 

13. What kind of franchisees do you look for?

“We are looking for enthusiastic individuals and couples who want to work in the business, have a high attention to detail, understand the importance of customer service and who will stay cool and calm under pressure.”

 

14. How to ensure you get the best quality food while still remaining profitable?

“We work hard to minimise wastage and portion our proteins carefully. This can make a big difference. We are also in constant dialogue with suppliers to bring efficiencies in the supply chain.”

 

15. How do you deal with competitors?

“We have been operating successfully in Melbourne for the past 7 years. Melbourne is arguably one of the toughest markets in the world for modern Asian food and we see this strong competition as a huge positive and motivator. We focus on being original and being the best at what we do and welcome competitors as they only make us stronger.”

 

-Franchise fee/ turn key cost? $50,000 initial franchise fee, turn-key from $400,000

-Length of term? 5 years

-Marketing levy 1%

-Franchise royalty:   tiered structure – 6% on dine-in, takeaway and catering, 3% on delivery

 

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