Q&A with founder of Monkey King Thai - Top KJ
- Could you tell us about how your business got started?
In 1977, having left Thailand, our Aunty did the courageous thing. Leading with her heart, she muscled up the courage to open her own Thai restaurant in Sydney.
As you can imagine, the world was a very different place. Thai food in Australia was almost non-existent. It was a time before foodies, Master Chef and even your local barista.
She knew that Australia had to try Thai food. She knew that Australia was going to be her home. So one meal at a time, she set out to win the hearts of her customers. She wanted to reunite our family in Australia and she did this in the kitchen, with a wok and a hot flame.
Today 40 years on, my brother and I are here, building on our Auntie’s vision. We know a lot about authentic Thai food and our Auntie’s recipes have a big part in that. We are honouring her values and what she achieved.
Stay true to yourself and feed the world with authenticity and compassion. It’s our commitment, to bring together the best flavours of traditional Thai food and have fun along the way.
Monkey King, is for everyone who takes food seriously, but not themselves. The compassionate and playful amongst us, who share moments with friends and family.
- How many stores do you have? How many are franchised/ owned?
We currently have 3 locations, all in Sydney; Linfield, Newport and Narrabeen. We own them all and are yet to have franchised locations; however there will be a few in the future. Sydney-siders love our Thai food and the Monkey King Thai brand so we have major expansion plans in place for the rest of New South Wales including Bondi and Rhodes.
- Where are your current stores located? Do you have any new stores coming up?
We are in the early stages of our franchising programme but aim to open the 5 new locations by the end of 2018.
- North Shore
- Broadway Shopping Centre
- Sydney CBD
- Top Ryde City
- Macquarie Centre
- Rouse Hill
- Any expansion plans/ exciting news?
We constantly develop seasonal menus to keep our customers engaged with our brand. We have several new sites that we are looking to expand into and have appointed a leading architect to ensure that our fitouts are engaging and modern. Look out for our new restaurants coming soon!
- Could you tell us about the challenges in the Asian/fast food sector?
The sector is highly fragmented and dominated by independent owner operators. We have introduced lots of processes, systems and standardised operating standards. We have an operations managers and head-chefs who constantly monitor the quality. This consistency and delivery of high quality products and experiences ensures that we are differentiated in this sector and our franchisees will be well supported.
- How do you deal with labour costs/ costs of goods/ penalty rates?
These are all essential costs to running a business. We take a holistic view and ensure our pricing matrix is appropriate so that we can cover our costs and comply with the requirements. We also look to incentivise our teams so they are recognised as integral to our business success.
- What kind of locations do you look for? How do you deal with high property prices?
Fortunately, our customers love our brand and seek us out. While we look for high traffic sites and look 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.
- How do you do food delivery?
We partner will all of the major third party providers and have our own delivery drivers as well. We have our own website and staff and incentivise our customers to order directly through us.
- Could you tell us about your menu?
Our menus are contemporary and modern. While they are based on family recipes they are adjusted to suit the Australian palate. Thailand is a cultural melting pot of cuisines and influences and our menu flavours reflect these influences.
- Talk us through one of your restaurants?
A Monkey KIng Thai restaurant is designed to be enjoyed by everyone. We cater for most food intolerances, provide a variety of traditional & authentic dishes and love hosting families from all walks of life. It’s a unique experience as soon as you enter the restaurant. Special details are incorporated into the layout of the restaurant and our staff ensure excellent customer service. Furthermore, we provide a casual and relaxed dining experience for everyone to enjoy.
- Are you or have you tried to change your model at all- if so why?
We did try a food court model, however realised that it lacked the dining experience we are famous for.
- Why did you choose to franchise?
We want to offer everyone the opportunity to be part of our family and share our brand with the world.
- What kind of franchises do you look for?
We are looking for compassionate and fun franchisees who love being surrounded by friends and family. Monkey King Thai is looking for people who can make others feel at home. You need to create a place that people want to return to. If you have that, the Monkey King team can teach you the art of delicious Thai street food.
- How to ensure you get the best quality food while still remaining profitable?
Great purchasing, head chefs and training systems to ensure consistency along with standard practices and processes. Our product is portioned controlled and made to order; all of this helps us reduce wastage and ensure freshness.
- How do you deal with competitors?
We do things differently at Monkey King Thai.
Australia simply can’t get enough of Thai flavours! Thai food is the 3rd most popular international cuisine in the country and this has seen an influx of Thai restaurants opening their doors. Despite growing demand, there is no leading chain player in this established and growing market.
That’s where Monkey King Thai comes in. Monkey King’s franchise model is unique and we’ve addressed the main problems faced by local Thai restaurants. With efficient systems and consistency in both service and food delivery, the result is simply ‘better’.
The food is prepared to a consistently higher standard. The service is designed to delight patrons. Technology is used to improve operations and deliver a superb Thai food experience.
Monkey King, is for everyone who takes food seriously, but not themselves
-Franchise fee/ turn key cost? $50,000
-To buy a new franchised location? From $300,000
-Length of term? 5 + 5
-Marketing levy 2%
-Franchise royalty 6%