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February 17, 2021

Yogi Food Lover or Food Loving Yogi? Either way I opened a restaurant in just 3 weeks.

I have missed appointments, more than once, this is my official apology to Sara. I have lost my keys sooo many times, misplaced my handbag, put my phones down – who knows where and forgotten to eat – with no idea that I was hangry. My neighbour sleeps with the light on which has contributed to my sleep deprivation. I am still teaching yoga asana and meditation and coaching clients to create their dream lives. If i ever needed my yoga and meditation practice it is now, its not a luxury its a necessity!
I opened a restaurant in just 3 weeks, this is that story.
We have just been testing the oven out with coconut cakes yum yums! Yesterday we baked our first cake… it was more like a scone. Today’s version was super yummy tomorrow Ketut will bake & I will watch instead of the other way around, you have to find your ingredients & play with them until you get your desired result and some things are just different! I have taught the staff to dance in the kitchen to Australian music… thats a kitty thing.
New Years Eve 2020 I was feeling pretty chill cause I had been in Flores chasing dragons. By that I mean I had been to Komodo National Park and ticked a bucket list box, I saw Komodo Dragons … did you know they eat their own babies? So the babies have to hide up a tree! Plenty of food folks, leave your off spring alone.
Getting off the plane in back home in Bali I was feeling happy to be back, until I had to down load some random do you have a PCR app that no passenger knew they needed to down load for the newly formed show us your PCR queue. After transversing the airport maze, hiking the highway to the scooter parking tower of terror paying my exit fees to get home to my anjing Charlie. Just so you know, I did not have a PCR as you cannot get one on Flores …so you can come back with a rapid antibody test. I learned this in a 5 hour hospital testing adventure. That adventure was SOOOO much fun #sarcasm
Charlie was super excited when I got home, I think my neighbours were excited too, we put on our going out shorts and headed off for that one beer on the beach, before we would get packed off back home. Bali had a 10pm curfew, so no random New Years Eve party pashes then, thanks a lot Camp Covid. During the consumption of aforementioned beer Jonas (my neighbour) randomly redirected our banter letting me know that we had leased the building just behind us (i.e. 5 metres back) from the beach and 100m from where we lived, so that I could open “that restaurant”
My inner existence went from blissful chill to washing machine, via WTF mode to Ok I can do this in under 10 seconds. Honestly I thought I was joking when I told him to make an offer… Apparently he was serious and the universe said lets roll with it. Four weeks later I am sitting here typing this from @omiesbali I went to bed that night feeling slightly nauseous, uncertain if it was that one unfinished beer or hospitality anxiety brewing.
The next morning, post practice, I grabbed a sharpie and drawing book to the mess that I would be renovating. I sat and awaited inspiration, it didn’t come. I left disappointed. I repeated this for two more days panicked that I was not getting a vision of anything. I usually go into a venue I am about to renovate and have instant inspiration (albeit governed by a clients budget) I rang my bestie wondering why I was falling down at the first hurdle. She showered me with support made me laugh we always have each others back on these projects cause we are kinda peas in a mad hospitality pod.
I woke up on the morning of day 4 and the brief was brewing. Omies had a logo concept, a menu, a colour palette, look and feel. My brain had already gone straight to merchandising the whole joint, with tea towels, a yoyo, a bottle opener- that is not a timber penis decorated with flowers and a resin keyring. Omies even had its own beach towel as well as board shorts… this is how I work, its the fun part I have to reign it in otherwise I would have a souvenir shop not a restaurant!. I immediately got on Instagram and created our account @omiesbali and then on to Fivver to see if I could whack out a logo. My first designer missed the brief entirely and could not get the changes I requested so I bailed on that idea. Very quickly I was in touch with a fabulous a Ukrainian designer via a friend here in Bali that delivered the brief to the letter, It was exactly what I had dreamed up!
Next up was creating skeleton plans for the kitchen that would remove any dead areas and make a more effective (profitable)use of the space. The bale is an outdoor structure, meaning the kitchen is visible, so it had to be visually appealing, functional and come in on budget. By the end of that fourth day we, that is the contractor, had knocked out a wall and put in a new cement bench, marked out the electrical points and laid out a plan for the bathroom. I had a a bee in my bonnet to open in just 14 days. We opened 22 days later the late arrival and persistence of the rainy season delaying the project. Making lists for a new venue is never ending, you don’t want to forget anything. Marking it out space by space like a grid with all the requirements for each area. Its fine to design a menu, your kitchen installation has to be able to cope with what ever it is you desire to deliver.
I am a firm believer of keeping it tight, picking a lane & stay in it. Too many venues get shaky and keep extending their menus until they become a something for everyone affair. This is costly and usually results in shit food with cooks that are jacks of all trades and masters of none, the menu eventually having nothing to do with the original concept. I Abraham Lincoln that straight up “you can please some of the people some of the time but you can’t please all of the people all of the time” get good at what you do.
I can cook nasi goreng, I don’t cook it well, so I don’t put it on my menu, I go to a roadside masterchef for that and I love them for their compact roadside speedy deliciousness. This is how I found my chef Ketut I went to eat nasi goring on the side of the road, she was cooking I was drawing in my book she asked me what was doing we had a chat about Omies. Turns out she was a cook in a restaurant in Kuta for 5 years, I tell here to call me in a week & come down & meet me at Omies. She does, she gets the job, now we cook together she is a fast learner with a great palette shares ideas with me & we create great food!
My Manager Agus, I first met as a driver here in Bali years ago. Camp Covid sent him, his scooter hire business and his team of drivers back to kampung. I was so happy that I could reach out to someone that I know that has business acumen, someone that I trust. Agus played phone a friend and bingo we had a gardener and a licensed security for the evenings when we are closed. His cousin is coming to work with us to, we are not sure when but eventually Agus will return to work on cruise ships travelling the world once camp covid releases its gnarly binds. That bums me to be honest but I would never stop someone going on their life adventures!
I live behind a stable, I have a friend who lives and works there. Komang recommended his nephew for a job, I was like “ok we will see tell hime to come see me”. Kadek is hard working, willing to learn, respectful and has the most beautiful customer service skills. I am blessed.
I haven’t done this alone my friends Jonas and Anastasia have listened to me be both excited and frustrated, they have fed me when I forgot to eat and helped my find my lost keys when they were shoved in the back pocket of my shorts. Sorry Jonas, we laugh now lol. Jonas’ business partner Ray who has an office behind Omies has been invaluable translating my absolute crap Balinese, Javanese and furniture delivery messaging has taken time to explain to me so many things I don’t even know where to start but I am grateful, so very grateful.
The 70’s themed fit out of the restaurant is second hand and repurposed. I like that I don’t put too much new stuff in the world, we are masters of consumption and I if I can do my small part to minimise the impact on our planet, I think this is good. Omies has second hand everything that came from a furniture dealer not far from where we are located. Furniture, fridges, grill, seats, inka which are traditional warung plates prior to the introduction of plastic that have waxed paper atop separating your meal from the ratan. The owners of this interesting establishment live with the furniture they sell and their 50 chickens. Most days when I am expecting delivery from them it doesn’t show up the end result of our WhatsApp messaging is “mohon maaf mis kety’ (sorry miss kety) which then results in Ray going for a visit to their shop which then results in the delivery arriving within 2 hours and further “mohon maaf mis kety” but I get my goods. Today is a “mohon maaf mis kety” game day for the latest and last delivery.
Omies bathrooms are an underwater adventure that even Ariel would enjoy! With a single cement bench, stone sinks, shells and art work. I designed and had made large steel light fittings which I love… Its a joy going to the loo!! I was hoping it was going to be a bum gun only affair, we are by the beach after all and I dislike creating more rubbish than we have to, all you need to do is follow @sungaiwatch on the gram to see the volume of crap that gets dumped in the waterways here. Tragically the vote came back pro paper. Just please don’t flush anything in the toilet the Bali sewerage system can’t cope with it and honestly neither will I. I found a colour coordinated mini bin and installed it. We also have a shower so if you want to desalinate before eating you can 🙂 We are very considerate, we are your Omies!!!!
The highly excitable contractor that has done a big chunk of the work, is a a lone wolf and sometimes leader of his band of merry men! He loves the uang (money) and does somethings exceptionally well and other things remain questionable. But he always turns up with a smile and can do attitude, pretty sure he would build you a bamboo rocket and convince you it would make it too the moon and back. He is quite the character, the beginnings of Omies would not be half as entertaining without him, this actually could be said for all the individuals that have become part of our story.
Charlie and her squad love it, we are dog friendly with water bowls & a puppy crack -which is what I call kibble. We have a fridge shelf dedicated to puppy treats when we need to coax those little buggers away from what they think is an on tap food supply just for them. I have made tempe bacon so now there is no excuse for them not to be vegetarian … they love it.
One of my big questions early in moments of self doubt was what is a yoga teacher doing opening a restaurant, vegetarian or not? Is a yoga teacher supposed to open a restaurant? I was actually wondering how I would be judged by the yoga community, would this diversification dilute my capabilities in that space? The question was not about yoga asana or teaching, or being judged. If you are judging any one you are not really living a life in yoga. It was 100% about a life in yoga. The answer is that there is never a yoga destination always a continued journey. Your vision, dreams and goals are constantly shifting. What do you do when you climb mountain? Enjoy the view for a bit, then head back down and find another mountain!!! I was feeling like something was missing there was more to my adventure at this time. The questions were not about how others feel, its about how I feel… Am I passionate about this project? Can I deliver this project? Can I rearrange this puzzle to make it work? Does it bring me joy and happiness? Am I learning & being challenged? Then I remembered that time when I was a Hospitality Consultant in North West Western Australia and I opened a yoga shala lol, It’s the same thing in reverse, in a foreign country
So the answer was let do this!!
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