Yasha Siddiqi of The Poached Pear

In this exclusive series, foona Review will interview owners of some of the most renowned restaurants across the country.

Our first interview features Yasha Siddiqi, the brains behind The Poached Pear, one of the most innovative dessert providers in Karachi.


What’s the story behind you entering the restaurant business?


Well to be honest, it was combination of a life long passion for cooking,  a very supportive best friend and a complete accident that resulted in my venture into the food business.  I always had a passion for cooking and tried several avenues to try and convert my passion into a sustainable career. Initially, it led me to work for television.  I took a break and moved to Australia and that exposure really helped me better focus my efforts towards professional cooking and baking.  As soon as I returned,  with the help of my friend Nisa Karamatullah, I started Poached Pear as a Facebook-only business.  The experiment became a success and business started growing fast.

How do you see your business model panning out in the next few years?

Currently my business model is in its entrepreneurial format. Very haphazardly structured around our needs, but always evolving.  It works for us. I do however plan to delegate responsibility to my team. We don't have much of a hierarchy but I do oversee most things right now. Most of the customer service and account maintenance is already handled by my team. The actual food production is completely controlled by me is and probably the last thing I will relinquish control of in the long run.

Do you believe your establishment helped change the way people eat?

I certainly hope so. We started our business with a very limited product range,  mostly revolving around the Pavlovas,  a dessert very few knew about.  

Pavlova

After that we kept introducing unusual desserts, categorically refusing to venture into cakes.  

Black Cherry Pie

 

Lemon-Meringue Pie

It was a bit of a challenge but to my surprise a lot of people were willing to try these unorthodox desserts and business picked up rapidly.  I wouldn't say Poached Pear single handedly changed people's indulging habits but we did get the ball rolling, at least for our Pearies.

Do you think the restaurant business is worth entering?

If you have a passion for it and willing to be sincere to your customers then definitely.  It's an exciting world.  But it is really hard to enter without some form of capital or experience.  And people entering this field must understand, the job becomes your life. You'll probably spend more time working than doing absolutely anything else so if you don't enjoy it, get out immediately.

How has customer interaction been in general?

Well our target market is mostly tech savvy people and people who understand the need for high quality products. Since we operate exclusively on a digital platform, this allows us to reach our targeted customers directly.  Mostly the interactions with customers has been positive and very rarely does a negative incident occur.  Plus, my team is highly trained and expected to provide the highest quality of service and so far they have not let me down. 

Do you feel your customers understand your food?

Like I said products are unusual.  People often can't connect the price to a product they have never seen or heard of before so explaining that can be a challenge at times.  But once they try our products their feedback is very positive and often descriptive. So Yea I guess they understand the complexities of our desserts, but that understanding often comes after a leap of faith.

The worst/best customer interaction you’ve had so far?

Fortunately there aren't many negative ones.  None that I can recall at least.  There was one positive that really stuck with me. A customer called me and after ordering a variety pie, praised the food and service.  But the most rewarding thing was that she was feeling depressed and the desserts helped her snap out of it.  The knowledge that our products give joy to some people really made my day. 

Do you believe there is scope for new cuisines in your city?

Yes, but with certain reservations. People are willing to try new things and more adventurous dietary patterns are emerging so that makes life easy. But often expectation of flamboyant flavors trump the subtle nature of certain cuisines and very few can appreciate that subtlety.

If you could, what would you go back and change about your business?

I've learnt to live life with no regrets.  I used to work with my mum who had her own training company so I know that there is no preset path to success.  So I probably wouldn't change anything. My company adapts quickly to changing conditions and that's how I want it to remain.

How do you think customers help to improve your vision for food in general?

I mostly cater to foodies. And Karachi has a surprisingly massive community of foodies who are always willing to share their opinions.  That has personally helped me understand people's indulging habits and adapt my desserts accordingly. Customers know what they want, and that helps tremendously.

Do you believe social media holds any power or influence over customers?

Yes, but it's a two way street. Social media certainly helps spread the word,  fast, especially among my target audience.  It also empowers them to scrutinize every aspect of our operations which I personally appreciate as it keeps us on our toes and keeps us from becoming complacent in our product or service. 

Any words of wisdom or advice for newcomers?

Focus on suppliers.  The biggest obstacle in this city is not competition but the inadequacy or willingness of suppliers to cooperate with startups. So find good suppliers and never trust them blindly.


If you too want to share your culinary tales with us, leave your details here and we will get in touch!

 

foona Review

Published 30 Oct 2015 by foona Review @ foonaReview

 

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