It’s 5 o’clock in the afternoon and the weather is cold and breezy, dark clouds hang just overhead. It would seem that nature intends to honour us with another downpour soon. This has been an all-too-common scenario throughout the year. For some, this kind of cosmic order is beneficial since such weather may bring people together to share hot beverages while enjoying a bit of chit-chat in a nice, warm restaurant. But for classy eatery The Peak Resort Dining, perched amid the hills of Lembang, rainy season definitely poses a challenge in persuading people who might not bother taking the drive up the hill, to enjoy a full set menu.
Yet in the hands of Eddy Sugiri, his 18 years of weathering hot and rainy seasons in the restaurant industry has enabled the Peak Resort Dining to not only withstand the wear and tear but also to excel in the fast-paced culinary business.
► Jumping Out of the Frying Pan into the Fire
It was never Eddy Sugiri’s plan to jump into the food trade.In 1994 he had just successfully launched his property project, Giri Indah, a luxurious resort estate in the hillside region of north Bandung. Sadly, the good news did not last long. Just as all of the housing properties had sold out, issues with AMDAL and the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) rose up causing more than half of the buyers to cancel their sales agreements. Six months later, Sugiri had the EIA issue covered for his estate, but the prior selling success was not easy to repeat. As if that was not enough, the 1997 financial crisis that hit the Indonesian economy added fuel to the fire. It meant periods of struggle, especially for the likes of manufacturers and developers.
A solution to the financial collapse was seemingly out of reach for the moment. Those involved in the property business had a hard time coping but it was then that Eddy, together with his friends who were stakeholders in the Giri Indah property, came up with the idea of opening a restaurant in the same area.
14th February 1998 marked the grand opening of The Peak Resort Dining, a modern country-style resort dining establishment. The opening was a hit. The sixty-seat restaurant was full to capacity. Very quickly, the establishment needed to expand to accommodate the demand. The kitchen was expanded and two major buildings that once were separated from each other were reconstructed to be able to cater for a new 160 seat capacity. As of today the restaurants cover size has increased to 240 seats.
► The Work
Eddy Sugiri started to get more deeply involved in the management of The Peak Resort Dining as the resurgence of the Indonesian economy persuaded the other stakeholders to return to the property business, leaving The Peak Resort Dining for Eddy to handle. Committed to moving forward with the restaurant he had started in the first place, Eddy was determined to raise the restaurant’s overall competence. The staff went through a period of extensive training to be able to deliver the level of service to customers.
Eddy believed that human capital was one of the keys to ensuring a culinary business ran smoothly. The F&B crews were asked to take English courses to better serve English-speaking customers. Not only that, wine courses were also given to raise competence in this important area. Weekly and monthly meetings were held to improve the overall performance. Menu reviews and adjustments were made based on sales charts and the personal opinions of kitchen staff. Evaluations and feedback were continuously shared. Eddy encouraged his staff to push beyond their limits and the focus on competence soon paid off. The management’s maturity and professionalism encouraged the staff who were regularly credited by satisfied customers. This had a psychological impact as it helped to incentivise the employees to maintain their high standards. This had been Eddy’s plan from the beginning. His craftsmanship in managing the human resources even saw The Peak welcome Prime Ministers from Hungary, Austria, and Chile savoring a satisfying lunch at the restaurant.
► The Values
Eddy Sugiri is no ordinary man. His values stand before his work and he underlines that profit and commerciality are not everything. Instead he believes passion and positive attitude are better assets for running a business. In recruiting staff, Eddy wanted to find candidates with gratitude. He wanted people that would sincerely feel thankful to beaccepted into a team. “If you enter a process with a feeling of gratitude, positive energy will emerge in your attitude. I want those people to get on board with me. I want people who are not only honest to themselves but also to the people around them and I need that since the restaurant business is all about service”, Eddy said, fluently. He claims that handling the restaurant is a hobby taken seriously. “You have to take things seriously, including your hobby as it will give you good vibes. What I am trying to say is that when you have passion in everything you do, you will have an enjoyable life. You won’t be occupied with negative thoughts and the people in your life will care for you in their own way. Working is not only about making money, but also sharing values and educating people. I have always shared my knowledge and experiences with my staff. Let us be the educators of our future generations. Isn’t that what life is all about? Being able to pass on good things to people?”
The Peak has grown stylishly and vigorously. Many staff have come and gone. Some that have left the Peak have continued to have successful careers in the culinary world. “It’s always good to know people that once worked for you have now become hotel managers in other places. And we still keep in touch. They used to tell me that they were happy to be part of the team in the Peak because they learned a lot here. Here, they learned that life isn’t always sweet, they got scolded, yelled at, or even suspended if they made mistakes. But that’s a process. It’s all part of the journey. At the end of the day, when it’s done and you get to see them serving a customer with smiling faces and the customer is happy and satisfied, you know you are doing the right thing.”
Eddy Sugiri may have started with zero knowledge in the food and beverage industry, but his willingness to take things seriously has granted him the reward of accomplishment. The Peak Resort Dining, up on the hill, is proof of the pudding.
photo by Kiki Y. Basuki