25/05/2004 - 22:00

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25/05/2004 - 22:00

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A touch of magic spice and a focus on quality, authentic food, are just two of the factors behind the success and longevity of a Perth favourite, as Julie-anne Sprague reports.

Gusto

A touch of magic spice and a focus on quality, authentic food, are just two of the factors behind the success and longevity of a Perth favourite, as Julie-anne Sprague reports.

THERE are many ‘secrets’ behind the success of Perth’s best-known restaurants but one that holds true to the best of the best is the word-of-mouth recommendations that keep business coming through the door.

Surviving for more than two decades, of course, requires a consistent delivery of quality food and service.

That’s something that continues to drive success for Innaloo’s Punjab Restaurant, established by John and Gurmeet Singh in 1981.

It was taken over by the Sohal family in 1993 and, even with more competitors opening in the area (including the million-dollar Agni Restaurant), The Punjab Restaurant has gone from strength to strength.

According to Tanveer Sohal, director and manager of The Punjab Restaurant, this success has come from delivering consistency and a quality product.

“It’s about consistency and looking after your regulars,” Mr Sohal says.

“When we took over we improved the service and brought chefs in from India and improved the food. The regulars keep coming back.

“We have some people who come in and remember when their grandparents brought them here.

“People will travel to get quality food. I like Thai food and I go to the Dusit Thai in Northbridge. When I drive there I pass others on the way but I go there because I know that it is quality. 

“I think it’s the same for us.

“Word-of-mouth makes this place work. Our regulars often tell us that they recommend clients come here.”

And the success of The Punjab Restaurant has been replicated several times by Mr Sohal’s family.

They purchased Koh-I-Noor in Hepburn Heights in 1999 and Masala in Clarkson in 2002, and they co-own a third restaurant – The Cove in Alfred Cove – which opened in 2000.

Each restaurant is run by a family member, apart from The Cove, which is run by Mr Sohal’s business partner. This family focus is something Mr Sohal believes is critical to the restaurants’ success.

“People like to be acknowledged so if I am here I know the regulars and I greet them. You’ve also got to be here to make sure the quality is good,” he says.

Mr Sohal is very much the face of The Punjab Restaurant.

“I am here every day,” he says.

Nestled between dozens of fast food outlets, The Punjab Restaurant is distinctly Indian in appearance but doesn’t go over-the-top.

Its fit-out is simple and has touches of Indian inspired artwork and furnishings.

“We had a renovation but we didn’t go over the top. I wanted it to be nice and elegant but not too much like some Chinese restaurants do. We wanted to have some little touches,” Mr Sohal says.

Friday and Saturday evenings are usually booked out and take-away trade can get as high as 50 per cent of the turn over, evidence that hundreds of people are enjoying the meals.

Mr Sohal says a focus on quality ingredients from rice to spice meant the food was of high quality. But that didn’t necessarily require him to put up the prices in order to make back the margin.

“Yes our food is good but we sell so much of it every night that we can keep our prices down,” he says.

“We have bigger take-away containers than other places and I think people appreciate the value that they get, and they come back.”

Generally, 30 per cent of The Punjab Restaurant’s revenue is derived from take-away orders – a second income stream that can ease the pressure of slow dining nights.

“That’s the good thing about our business,” Mr Sohal says.

“If the dine-in night is slow, takeaway picks it up and if takeaway is slow, we are usually busy in the restaurant.”

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