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Bite Bakery: the owner must be present

Although Hungarian retail sales have dropped like a rock recently, a new café has popped up distributing and marketing Hungarian style bakery products.

Although Hungarian retail sales have dropped like a rock recently, a new café has popped up distributing and marketing Hungarian style bakery products.

The first Bite Bakery Cafe opened its doors on February 13 just across the road from the Nyugati railway station. Owner Crown Foods, a subsidiary of catering and hospitality machinery manufacturer Thermotechnika, aims to establish a new type of fast food chain with its fresh made rolls and pretzels.

The new shop functions fully as a bakery as well, with mixing and baking all carried out on site. The café uses Thermotechnika’s machinery and, as such, also operates as a showroom for the machine manufacturer’s products.

“The business model is very simple: something fast and simple, like pretzels and rolls, that reflect on the childhood memories of most Hungarians. The taste also reflects Hungarian cuisine, but with a twist. The well known forms of pretzels and rolls are flavored sometimes with bacon, garlic, salami or mascarpone,” said András Pólus, managing director of Crown Foods, pointing out that hundreds of test products were baked to finalize the recipes.

Over the initial investments, Crown Foods has raised capital by HUF 13 million, supplemented by a two-stage investment of HUF 49 million from the state-owned Széchenyi Capital Investment Fund, which will purchase a 42.86% stake in the company. According to the plans, the company will pay back the investment with yields until the end of the fifth year.

The total investment of HUF 65 million is enough to open two to three restaurants (the development of the interior design at the Nyugati café cost HUF 8 million alone), but the expansion won’t stop at that point according to the managing director’s vision.

“It’s no secret that we want to establish a franchise chain one day and there are already requests, but it’s too early to talk about these plans. We have to build up the supplier network, establish the precise manufacturing methods, etc. We will start our next café this month and would like to open eight shops altogether in five years on our own. Then we could talk about further prospects of expansion through franchising,” Pólus said.

In recent decades quite a number of Hungarian fast food chains like City Grill, Paprika or the infamous Gusto Burger (a fast food chain of just one), have been forced to quit the market and have given place to throngs of Turkish and Chinese restaurants. But Pólus isn’t afraid of an unwanted early enclosure.

“The first craze about the new place is over and our sales are still pretty strong,” the director said. He believes that success in this business stands on three pillars: “An original and unique flavor, suitable prices and personal commitment are key factors to success,” he says. “As a manager and an owner, I have to be in the café, to learn, fix and improve. A huge multinational fast food chain can’t satisfy the changes in customers’ taste from one day to another. We can.”