- Former KPMG accountant Naman Patel CA had always wanted to build his own business. He plans to expand Thali to a second outlet, then possibly return to accounting.
- He says his financial accounting background helps him better understand the ins and outs of running a business, but he still had to learn the technicalities of running a restaurant.
- His training comes in handy when it comes to planning, budgeting and offering the occasional promotion.
By Rachel Alembakis
In 2018, Naman Patel CA bought Thali Contemporary Indian, an eatery in Perth's CBD. He worked for KPMG before manning the pans, and says his training and experience as an accountant is a big help running the eatery.
Q: What’s a typical work week look like?
Each week starts with ordering. Because we constantly rotate the menu, that’s a lot of inventory, and we have to keep it moving because we don’t have a lot of storage. Then there’s setting the staff roster. Towards the end of the week, it’s more about making sure we have everything we need. The priorities are constantly shifting, and that’s where CA training helps me.
Q: What made you buy an established eatery?
I’ve always wanted to have something for myself. I can't say I wanted to own a restaurant, but when it came up, it ticked all the boxes.
I was born and brought up in Kenya, but my parents are from the western part of India. My mum and sister are both great cooks, and I learned from them.
I noticed this restaurant because I’d come to the food court [at Carillon City] to eat. I saw it was always so busy long after lunch. I always thought it would be good to jump in here, with the right concept.
“Where my CA training also comes in is that ability to plan, budget, see what you can do and what is out of your reach and would put a strain on the business.”
Q: What qualities do you need to run your own restaurant?
You have to be positive. There are always things to manage, and you need an upbeat attitude. You also have to be able to come up with your own ideas and put them to work. It's a good challenge. If you do something people like, they let you know. You can see the happiness the customers have immediately, and they come back. That’s where you get a lot of the joy.
Q: What are your biggest challenges?
It's not like anyone in my family has been in the restaurant industry, so I’ve had to learn the technicalities of running a restaurant – food quality, safety standards, commercial cooking equipment – and what to do when it goes wrong or isn’t working. It’s also about understanding when it’s the right decision to repair or replace.
Q: How has your CA training helped you in this role?
A financial accounting background helps you really understand a business. If you’re doing any discounts or promotions, you really understand the business impacts in ways that other business owners don’t. Where my CA training also comes in is that ability to plan, budget, see what you can do and what is out of your reach and would put a strain on the business.
Q: Do you miss accounting?
I don’t feel like I am completely out of the industry, because I do the accounting for my own business now. The plan is to give this outlet at least a year and then look at opening a second location. Once I have the business to a stage where it can run without me being here all the time, I'd like to go back to accounting.