When Nasser Saku stepped out of Naguru based Panamera Bar & Club with his friends to buy a burger from an eatery at the establishment one night, in the days after his immediate return from the United Kingdom in 2015, he was not impressed with what he saw having lived in the UK where the night lifestyle was turning to food trucks for a bite, in the dead of the night –after a night out. That is when he got an idea to do more research on whether the food trucks business would get a footing in Uganda’s vibrant food industry.
He was in luck, there was no one running such a business within the industry. Better still, there was no one selling quality fast-food at a bargain price. “Where are you going to get a quality burger at UGX 5000?” he asks reminiscently of the question he asked of himself when he got the idea to start the business.
He thought about all possibilities before sitting down to pitch the idea to Jean. She bought the idea right away.
With the idea in mind, he set about gathering his savings but they were not enough to give him a flying start. He was forced to take up temporary employment so as to raise enough capital. “Thankfully,” he says, “everything worked out.” He got people who invested in the idea and within two months the food truck had been imported and they started operations.
At the onset, he hoped to register the business as Meals on Wheels but someone had beaten them to that moniker. One day, whiling watching Sponge Bob Square Pants with his little brother (surprisingly, it’s the only show he watches on TV never mind his age) it hit him; “Why don’t you start a Krusty Krab?” he thought to himself. It was a fictional restaurant on the popular kids’ animated series. He jumped online to look up any business that carried a similar name (trust Google to know everything). There was one being run by someone in the Philippines and it had worked out well for him. He thought the name was easily relatable for any millennial and in that moment, the business got its present name.
Currently, the business is run by him, Vishal Shukla –who he refers to as his best friend, now based in the US and Jean Nzonzi. Vishal helped with finding the truck from the UK. Jean is revered for having added a Ugandan feel to the truck. Initially, they had an exotic and foreign outlook based on what he had seen in the UK but Jean helped them tone down so as to blend in with the Ugandan market.
The trio used the first Blankets & Wines edition, in 2015, to launch their food truck business. But their initial idea was never to solely run a food truck. They were planning to start a restaurant in Kampala’s affluent Kisementi business hub before they were advised, by their friends in the U.S, to first grow into the business of selling food for at least five years.
Currently they are planning to add Tacos varieties and other Mexican delicacies to their menu. They also want to extend their hours of business to 10:00 p.m. so as to attract the late night customers. Additionally, they have gone green by switching from using a generator, which created a din in the background as they operated, to using the more environmentally friendly and sustainable solar energy. This will be coupled with a slash in their prices (hopefully, and if the market prices for their raw materials do not become so expensive).
When asked what has been their most revealing moment since inception of the business; Nasser says they weren’t adding cheese but omelets to their burgers because they didn’t think cheese was a Ugandan thing (face palm). Adding cheese has bumped up their sales since it makes the burgers tastier.
Initially, they did not realize their burgers were low on meat-added (yet meat is so Ugandan a thing). They had to increase the portions of meat in their burgers.
It has always been a learning experience on the job. Their customers have been kind enough to understand it’s a step by step process for their services to get better. They always seek for feedback from their customer and endeavor to correct the mistakes pointed out to them.
This in turn, has taught them to value every single customer they get. Every penny that goes into their pocket counts; they thus make it a point to ensure the customer gets back value for money in form of a finger-licking good meal.
Putting in a good shift is always a big challenge given the working hours. Nasser points out if they worked well into the night serving party goers and late night customers, it is a challenge to stay on one’s feet the following day. Some of the customers served late in the night are also a nuisance at times, yet they cannot risk being harsh towards them; they must treat all customers like kings. Other customers also simply misinterpret the good bargain Krusty Krab gives through its fair prices for poor quality service. They are stuck with the belief that a good service is expensive because that is what the high-end restaurants offering quality service charge.
To this day, Krusty Krab’s best day in business fell on the Easter weekend of 2016. They were open from Wednesday through to Sunday and sold out every, single, day of that weekend. They had coffee and energy drinks to thank for the stamina. So busy a weekend it was that Nasser nearly fell asleep behind the wheel on Easter Monday; almost causing an accident. They still look back to that weekend fondly.
Nasser says he owes it to his team. He refers to them as one trucker family that works in sync and has a good working relationship. The food truck is one small working space that requires them all to be at the same level at all times, if one is not in sync with the rest of the team, it can get pretty hot (pun intended) with the rest of the team.
What: A fastfoods, foodtruck
Who: Run by Nasser Saku
When: since 2015 to date
Why: Because there was no food truck at the time to offer quality food to party people in Kampala.
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