Reeza Budhisurya: Icon of F&B industry

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THOSE who love entertainment, especially nightlife and restaurants, may be familiar with the name Reeza Budhisurya and his group Opco, which he established in 2004. His name is well known in the F&B and entertainment industry.
He introduced the ultra lounge concept for Manna House and Embassy, which became the “in” places. The Opco group also has other brands, such as Score! in Jakarta, Bandung, Pekanbaru, Manado and Balikpapan, Embassy in Bandung, Yogyakarta and Samarinda, Cork and Screw as well as Circa in Jakarta, plus a couple of other brands managed by the Opco Group, such as Public and Wonder Bar.
According to Reeza, the F&B industry in Indonesia, especially in Jakarta, is far more advanced than in neighboring countries, such as in Malaysia, Philippines and even Thailand. He said that compared to Bangkok, which is one of the main tourist destinations in Asia, Jakarta is far more superior. “There is more happening here and our concept, ambience and trends are more progressive,” he said.
For almost a decade, the lifestyle culinary business has been growing positively. In a cosmopolitan city like Jakarta, which has modern urban population, there are lots of restaurant, bars, clubs, lounges and the like with the latest concept. The global economic crisis and the recent presidential election have had no negative impact on the business. “The effects of the bombings at Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott hotels recently only lasted for a couple of days, and then business was back to normal,” said Reeza.
The F&B industry is not only about food but has become more about entertainment and offers a more pleasant experience. Next to restaurants, there are also indoor and outdoor cafes, clubs, lounges and bars. The products are also varied, such as bakery items, coffee, wine, cigars, pancakes, flavored beer and frozen yogurt. One can also easily find numerous food courts, cafes and fine dining restaurants. Of course each has its own market.
While the industry is trendy and seasonal, Jakartans are also capricious. That is why creative ideas, breakthroughs and new strategies are needed to lure customers, such as changing the decor.
Although Manna House, Public, Wonder Bar and Embassy in Jakarta are now only memories, the Opco Group is still thriving with its F&B and entertainment business. Embassy Jakarta is temporarily closed due to renovation plans by the building management of Taman Ria Jakarta. Many people have expressed an interest in an Embassy franchise.
The Opco Group presented a new concept in the first semester of this year, a restaurant called Portico Terrace Bistro located in front of Senayan City. Portico is a restaurant and champagne bar with a menu that is categorized as international comfort food comprising Western and Asian favorites as well as a complete range of champagne and wine. As its name implies, the restaurant has a green area with a view.
In Reeza’s opinion, there are two types of players in the industry: the pioneer and the follower. Reeza, who was born in Jakarta in 1972, said that a pioneer has to make deep observations and conduct research, while a follower has at least to be better than the existing players.
To keep abreast of things, he often observes a number of places abroad. He also did a lot of research before opening Manna House and Embassy Jakarta. “I compared the lounge concept of a five-star hotel, its facilities, service and so forth. I also studied similar places in the United States and several European countries,” said Reeza, who graduated with a business degree from Ohio Dominican College, Ohio, the US.
He became familiar with the F&B business during his school days in the US. In 1994, while still at university, Reeza worked as a kitchen hand at Taco Bell, a Mexican fast food restaurant, in Columbus, Ohio. Later, with more experience, he secured a job as restaurant manager at Mark Pie’s Express, a Chinese fast food restaurant in Ohio. He also did a stint at Quality Monitoring for a famous underwear catalogue, Victoria’s Secret.
He returned to Indonesia after receiving his bachelor of art degree in 1996. He worked for a while at a textile company belonging to his family, but he was more interested in the F&B industry. He was hired as kitchen supervisor at B.C. Rooster restaurant and bar in Jakarta. He later got a job as assistant general manager of Love’s Prime Rib and Barbeque Ribs restaurant. “Although I was the assistant general manager, there was no general manager at the time,” recalled Reeza with a laugh.
He then turned his hand to the business side of the F&B industry and created places like Underground and Warna by Pernique clubs. In the middle of 2007, Reeza became the director of PT Granton Marketing, a company dealing in direct selling/advertising and customer acquisition.
The Opco Group started applying the franchise concept in 2008. Initially, Reeza said, the franchise concept was not fully applied as the operations and management were still under the control of the Opco Group to maintain quality. However, with the growth of more and more branches he had to resort to the full application of the franchise concept, otherwise he would have had to spent too much time traveling between establishments in different cities to monitor everything. However, he said that he always felt satisfied when he was able to develop a new concept.
To Reeza, human resources are as important as capital, concept, demography, etc. Human resources, according to him, are the software, while the concept, interior and the like are the hardware. Recruiting the wrong type of human resources would have dire consequences, he said. “I conduct my own interviews for the management level,” said Reeza.
He always ponders over new opportunities and new concepts or brands, while concentrating on the existing ones, including the franchised brands. He will open a new bar at Senayan City in the near future. (Ade Irwan Trisnadi)
The Jakarta Post, September 23, 2009
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