Ateria Group has gained success with brands like SaladStop! and %Arabica, and now it’s back with the popular barbecue bistro Meatsmith, in collaboration with Dave Pynt from Burnt Ends hospitality group in Singapore. As the group’s Chief Operating Officer, Edo Widjaja tells Exquisite Taste how to navigate the dynamic F&B scene. By Runi Indrani
E: How did you first get into the F&B industry?
A: I started as a chef and went to a culinary school in 2004, then I worked in Canada for a while, and went to culinary school there as well. From then on, I found my passion for F&B and worked in restaurants in Canada. Right after that in 2012, I returned to Jakarta.
E: What do you think is the key to success when it comes to the F&B industry?
A: Number one is the concept has to be right, as well as the product, and the service. Those three components are very important for the F&B business. Nevertheless, it’s about team effort. I believe that’s how to really succeed in this industry.
E: What has been your biggest challenge in the industry and how did you overcome it?
A: Number one is finding the right people because without the right people it’s really hard for us to achieve our goals. That’s why I always believe that the team is very important.
E: The Ateria Group recently opened Meatsmith restaurant from the famed Burnt Ends Hospitality Group in Singapore. Can you tell us more about it?
A: We started with SaladStop! back in 2016, that was our first project. After that we had %Arabica in 2019. I had known Dave Pynt from Burnt Ends and Meatsmith Singapore for quite some time, and during a discussion he mentioned that he wanted to expand to Jakarta. We saw the opportunity, because Indonesians like something smoky, something with barbecue, so that’s why I always believed that Meatsmith could be the next big thing for Jakarta, and also Bali.
E: Is there a plan to open in Bali soon?
A: Yes, the next projects are to open %Arabica and Meatsmith in Bali.
E: What goals does Ateria Group want to achieve in the country’s F&B scene?
A: To put it simply, we just want to be the number one in the segment. For healthy food, we have SaladStop!, that’s number one in the segment. For coffee, our %Arabica is number one in the segment. So, right now we have barbecue casual dining with Meatsmith, and we want that to be the number one as well.
E: How does the F&B scene now differ from when you first started?
A: Digital marketing is the thing that we need to adapt to now. Everything changes so fast, we need to be educated enough and we need to follow all the trends, especially from overseas. If you look at Singapore, they’re really one step ahead of us, so that’s why we’re glad we have all the principles, they helped us a lot in terms of what we need to do. But yes, number one, right now the digital game is really important. It’s not like what it used to be, where we could just invite people to the restaurants. It needs to be social media-friendly. Everywhere you go, it needs to pop up on your mobile phone. That’s how I see the changes ahead.
E: Are there any upcoming projects to look forward to that you can share with our readers?
A: We have a few brands that we’re working on. However, we want to focus on the brands that we do have such as SaladStop!, %Arabica, and Meatsmith. We are going to open a few more outlets in Jakarta and Bali. So, we’re focusing on our current brands for now.
E: What advice would you give someone who wants to be in the F&B industry?
A: Passion and dedication are really important if you want to be in the game. I think F&B is all about hospitality, so it needs to come from your heart, it can’t just be a nine-to-five job.