“Fresh, fun and exciting” – bringing teppanyaki to the customer
When we think of teppanyaki, we visualise a grill plate in the centre of a square around which we gather to partake of delicious Japanese cuisine prepared with flair. But Alberto Borja, owner of newly-launched Top Grill Teppanyaki, was inspired to take the idea even further – by bringing the teppanyaki experience into his customers’ homes. “It’s a pretty simple concept,” he explains. “We set up in your back yard, garage, front yard – anywhere! It’s an unforgettable dinner party experience.”
Alberto’s 20 years’ experience as a teppanyaki chef was the main inspiration behind his unique idea. His motto, “To bring the fresh food, fun and excitement to people’s homes” – illustrates the novelty of being able to experience teppanyaki at home. “It’s very out of the ordinary,” he says. “I had a lot of people asking me if I could come to cook for them at their home, but of course they didn’t have the teppanyaki grill. That’s when I realised I had an idea and I should run with.”
Alberto faced a number of challenges during his start-up phase, which is common for most businesses. “We had to find the right name, one that reflected our image,” he recalls. “Then we had to find the right bank, one we could trust with the business’s money, and that could make us some beneficial offers.”
Once “Top Grill Teppanyaki” had been trademarked, Alberto solved the challenge of finding the right bank with ANZ, who he picked due to the value ANZ place on providing a great customer experience. “ANZ listen very well to their customers,” he says. “And they provide a range of options to choose from, they try to make things as easy and convenient as they can.”
Illustrating this ease and convenience was Alberto’s experience with ANZ. “I was visiting different websites to search for a better way to manage my business when I came across ANZ Business Ready and the discount banking packages” he recalls. His visit to the website was followed up immediately by a call from ANZ – on what was a Victorian public holiday. “It was a very quick response!” he recalls.
Looking back on the start-up phase, Alberto says that there’s nothing he’d do differently. “I wouldn’t change anything, because we planned everything thoroughly,” he explains. “Over a couple of years we organised it well. We listened to people’s constructive criticisms and suggestions so that we could improve.”
With demand increasing, Alberto has his eye on future growth plans. “We’d like to open a restaurant while retaining the home experience,” he reveals. “Our digital strategy – website and social media platforms – has been really successful in terms of communicating with potential customers, so the word’s getting out there.”
So what advice does Alberto have for anyone thinking of taking a novel concept to market?
- “David Crowley, CEO of Foursquare, said ‘do what you love and the rest will come’, says Alberto. “This is some of the best advice I’ve received.”
- “Be unique and creative,” Alberto advises. “Use any negative feedback as motivation to improve and do better.”
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