Making a Difference
An interview with New Nordics F&B boss
By Barton Walters
Drive into the heart of Pratumnak Hill until you see bright orange buildings. That’s the Nordic Village. At the heart of this mini-city is New Nordic Steaks, Grill and Winery (SG&W), a flagship restaurant powering the food and beverage machine for the whole neighborhood.
That’s where I found Anders Eliasson. Anders is originally from Sweden and has been involved in the food and beverage business here in Thailand for 5 years. He started assembling The New Nordic Group’s culinary team 2 years ago.
When I asked Anders what have been the biggest challenges he’s faced while building restaurants at New Nordic. He had a lot to say.
Anders told me that finding, training and keeping staff to power the F & B machine is always a challenge.
He told me his experience in the hospitality industry in the US helped immensely. Anders worked in Miami’s trendy South Beach district and first-hand experience with American style hospitality left an impression on him.
“Consistency at every level” Anders said. “That’s the key to their high standard of service”. The word “consistency” would pop up repeatedly during our interview.
Anders said the key to consistent service is training. The New Nordic Group is fortunate enough to have a Thai national that speaks fluent Norwegian. He and Anders administer a training program that includes videos on recipes and even cocktails.
“One problem is training. Another is keeping them after they are trained” he said. “That’s why we work hard to motivate our staff and give them a feeling of family. This is very important for Thai employees”.
Anders said he’s quite proud of the team and feels like the quality and consistency of their food and service will continue to improve.
“Incredible diversity amongst our customers is also a bigger challenge than I expected” Anders said. “They are all ages and nationalities and you have to make everyone happy”. Anders told me he uses the Hard Rock Café motto, “Love all, Serve all”.
New Nordic caters to a wide variety of visitors. There’s a breakfast buffet for the Chinese tour groups. On weekends many Thai families come to spend some time near the beach. On traditional European holidays like Easter and Christmas, New Nordic’s food and beverage department reaches out to Scandinavian customers.
“A surprising amount of North Americans come to Steaks Grill &Winery to dine”, Anders said. “We are becoming known for our New Zealand beef and excellent pizzas”.
Anders also told me that the 3 week New Nordic Music Festival held earlier this year tested the F&B department’s abilities. “Feeding 200 or more people all at once is never easy” he said. “We made the buffet simple and satisfying. Everyone found something they liked”.
“The most exciting challenge for me is the remodeling of the Marcus building to expand in both directions” Anders said. He briefed me about plans to tear down the wall near the swimming pool at the Marcus building and connect the courtyard to that of Marcus 2 and Marcus 3. The result will be a huge open area with a chain of swimming pools and outdoor entertainment space.
Anders explained what he meant by “both directions” when he showed me plans to open up the dining room at Steaks Grill & Winery to the street. A balcony facing Pratumnak Soi 4 is in the works and hopefully the big open air bistro will attract passersby. “The Marcus building and this restaurant are really the heartbeat of the Nordic Village” he said. “We want to make it something special”.
“We are always serving New Nordic residents and guests as a priority” Anders added. “But, we will try to break down barriers that might keep anyone from not taking a look inside.” As he talked I could imagine people and music on the balcony overlooking the street. For sure this expansion will create a welcome feeling.
The Marcus expansion will take 12 to 18 months. Anders says the kitchen is ready for anything and he welcomes the challenge.
I asked Anders what was the secret to New Nordic’s rapid expansion and success. “I think a lot has to do with people feeling safe” he said. “This high season we had many guests returning from the year before bringing friends and family with them. Our little village is clean and secure. That’s what people want”.
“Staying in the New Nordic Village is like an all-inclusive resort or a cruise ship turned into a neighborhood” he added. “Everything you could want is so convenient”.
“If there is a secret” he said, “It’s probably our team”. “We have more than 400 employees with several countries represented. The New Nordic Group keeps everyone busy, motivated and ready for anything. That might be our secret weapon”.
As a final question I asked Anders what he liked best about working for The New Nordic Group. “I get to see things grow from the beginning” he said. “Two years ago there was nothing here. Now we’re seating 200 plus people per night and putting on music festivals. It’s very exciting to see how far we have come and to be part of it. What I like best is that I am in at the beginning and can really make a difference”.
The night after talking to Anders, I visited the New Nordic Steaks, Grill and Winery for dinner. Sipping a house red, listening to some cool tunes and telling jokes to the friendly staff, I could feel Anders’ South Beach training in effect. It’s an easy place to just hang out and watch the world go by.
The ability to create that much genuine atmosphere in such a short period of time is considerable. Congratulations to Anders and his team … making a difference on Pratumnak Hill.