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A street food named martabak

Source:Ringier Food

Date Published:4/20/2018 04:04:01 PM

Martabak Factory has raised the versatile martabak into a popular restaurant snack, writes SHELOMITA SAVITRI  

EVERY place and every country has its own speciality street food. However, martabak or murtabak seems to be one of those foods claimed by many. This comfort food has found home in places countries like Saudi Arabia, India, and Malaysia. Roam the streets of Indonesia and you can bet your money that martabak stalls abound. The most common form of martabak is the savoury egg-filled pancake mixed with green onion and minced meat, made from pan-fried crepes called martabak telur (egg martabak). Another variety of martabak is called martabak manis (sweet martabak), also known by the name Terang Bulan or Martabak Bangka. But the Martabak Factory was the first in Indonesia to diversify and introduce other flavour varieties to attract the upper classes.

At Martabak Factory this humble street food has been elevated into restaurant-worthy snack. While owner, Ika Pratiwi, is not revealing the secret to her popular martabak, she is more than happy to share her advice to budding entrepreneurs. 

Ika Pratiwi, owner Martabak Factory

 Ika Pratiwi, owner Martabak Factory, holding one of the popular martabak varieties

Tell us about Martabak Factory. Why did you start this business?

Martabak Factory was opened in 18 February 2015. I want to bring the street food, martabak to the middle and upper classes. Our speciality is martabak with a unique twist. Instead of a conventional topping, we provide unique toppings and modifications such as Nutella, red velvet, tuna mayo, mozzarella, matcha and so on. We also make special order martabak, for example, martabak shaped like a cartoon character. It has become our trademark.

Do you have any special technique to produce your food?

Milk makes for our unusual martabak. I did a lot of trial and error to find the right formula. I want to sell good products that don’t need unnecessary additives. Each ingredient and element should be well thought of and taste good on its own. Our martabak is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Customers love it that way.

Martabak dish at Martabak Factory

There are different versions of martabak, the most common being savoury egg-filled pancake with green onion and minced meat

Matcha martabak is one of the latest introductions at Martabak Factory

Matcha martabak is one of the latest introductions at Martabak Factory

What else do you offer besides this home-grown favourite?

Besides martabak, we also provide a wide array of Indonesian food such as nasi goreng, mie goreng, spicy fried chicken with sambal and many others. I want to strengthen our brand as a very Indonesian restaurant and serve local foods.

Where do you source your ingredients?

We choose quality ingredients that are still affordable to the middles class. If we need to downgrade the cost of ingredients during unfavourable price increases, we will test different ingredients to create the best taste. We don’t want our customers to notice there’s a decrease in quality.

For fresh ingredients, I still go to the market everyday and handpick each item to find the best bargain and the best quality. We have a lot of variety in our menu. Hence we only need a small amount for each item of fresh ingredients.

For ingredients that are needed in big amounts, we choose suppliers that offer stable quality and most importantly, stable price. So when there’s a price increase, for example during big holidays, we still get the same price. This is crucial for small businesses like us.

We buy semi-perishable products like chocolate sprinkles in small batches to maintain the quality. These ingredients tend to change quality when stay unused for too long. So I buy them in small batches to guarantee its freshness.

How do you ensure food safety in production?

As ingredients arrive, they are processed immediately, that is, cleaned, cut, chopped, seasoned, portioned, frozen, and and so on. Immediate processing will help maintain hygiene and quality. This is especially true of fresh produce like meat. This method also extends the expiry date of our products – which is great for economic reasons because we have quite a variety of food on the menu, so we can’t predict which food will be sold out first. Hence, I always periodically taste the food, for quality control.

What are the challenges of running a food business in Indonesia?

The first challenge is to survive. We have a lot of competitors, and small businesses like us are susceptible to change. Our restaurant was the first to ride on the martabak trend, but of course trends change. We used to be consistently creating new menu every three months. But the trend changes so fast and we are always behind. It needs time to create the concept, promo, and the menu. By the time it’s ready, the trend has already changed. So now we focus on providing a place for hanging out and for events.

The second one is internal affairs. Our team is very tight knit and we work well together. However, my staff sometimes feel bored or tired. That’s my duty as the owner to provide for their needs. We need to maintain their satisfaction and happiness level.

Cash flow is definitely the big one. For a small business, each item has a great impact. So we need to make sure that our budgeting and financial record is organised. We need to bargain for every item to get a healthy cash flow. Each event and each booking is valuable for our cash flow. Even when we are already full booked, we still need to meticulously look through each expenses.

What is your advice to entrepreneurs who want to start a business?

The first question you need to answer is how much resources do you have? Business needs money. Plain and simple. You can set up any kind of business but it needs to be compatible with your ability. Never force yourself to take up loan to pay for your business. The competition is fierce and you can never predict how your business will fare.

So plan your finances well. How much should you invest in to start the business? What is your target income? What is your target to reach your capital? If you want to apply for a loan, consider the interest. Make use of applications and social media. If you don’t have the resources to set up a restaurant, you can sell food at home using delivery application.

Study your market, and don’t be led only by your idealism. Find out what can people eat everyday without feeling bored. Do you need to educate the people because your products are not familiar? Do a research of your competitors, and the trends.

You need to consider the kind of business you want to run. Some entrepreneurs create a restaurant based on trends to reap as much profit as possible. When the trend dies, they’ve also reaped the benefits. Some prefer to build a business that is meant to last.

You need to separate business and personal money. Many new entrepreneurs make this mistake.

Be smart with your management. Each business function must run well whether it is financial planning, recording, marketing, and so on. Hence, you need to delegate to other people. You can’t handle it all otherwise you will not be able to see the bigger picture. You will be too caught up in the everyday tasks and you can’t plan well. You need to choose a function that you are good at. If you have a background in accounting, manage the accounting and leave the marketing to your other employees or partners. Save some secrets about your business. In my case, I keep the recipe of my martabak. In big companies, you are working in separate divisions and understand only what you’re assigned to. In a small restaurant business, you can separate production division from the cooking division.

What are your plans for Martabak Factory moving forward?

I want to open more branches of the Martabak Factory. Hence, I need to build a production house and increase the team especially for marketing. I want to go into franchise or partnerships. However, I only want to open several branches so I can ensure their success. When I open a branch, I want to make sure it is in the right place, right market and have the right team. Each branch should have exactly the same style, service, and most importantly, the same taste and quality.

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