40 Under 40: Chutima "Kate" Praungmethangkul
Many of the snaking lines seen at eateries around Siam Square and other big malls are all caused by one Chutima “Kate” Praungmethangkul. After graduating with a Master’s Degree in Gastronomy from Boston University, the food-loving entrepreneur actually opened a coffee shop, television channel, nail salon, and boxing ring, for the fear of having to deal with headaches that come with running a restaurant. When she finally returned to the grounds she is well-trained in, by buying the master franchise rights to Korean BBQ restaurant Nice Two Meat U, the returning crowds made it clear that she knows best when it comes to food. Besides operating four branches of Nice Two Meat U, with four more to open by next February, Kate is also the brains behind popular bubble-tea café Fire Tiger by Seoulcial Club, as well as the upcoming E-Bomb, a sandwich and fries kiosk, and Da Tang Hot Pot, a Chinese hot pot restaurant. While the 11th branch of Fire Tiger will open next year in London, more will be roaring into Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, and Cambodia from franchise sales.
She credits a catchy name, adapting flavours for the local market, and good taste as the key factors for any successful and frenzy-inducing eatery. On maintaining success, she says, “Whenever sales drop, I never have an excuse like bad economy, floods, or low season. I always look back to myself at what I could do better in order to improve and to make customers come in more. I also never think that I am successful already — in order to keep improving our services, and to deliver the best thing to customers.”