It was in 2008 when Phnom Penh resident Chan Piseth started to take more care about eating safely prepared food after a discussion with his new neighbour, the owner of a catering business.
The catering businessman told him that used oil from wedding parties is often sold on to small restaurants in Phnom Penh, after which it is again reused by smaller eateries, then finally sold for use by street food vendors. For about a decade, Piseth has routinely eaten breakfast and lunch at Park Café – where he trusts that he will receive quality and safe food.
Thousands of people in Phnom Penh are having a similar experience to Piseth. News about food scandals hitting the nation’s food supply chains has made consumers concerned about safety. When people have the money, they are willing to pay higher prices for safer and more healthy food options where the quality is guaranteed.
As it has earned confidence from consumers, Park Café has enlarged its operations annually. While it had one branch in 2004, Park Café now has ten branches across the city and provides jobs for about 350 Cambodian people. The number of consumers has increased from 2,000 daily customers in 2014 to nearly 3,000 per day today.
Heng Sengly, general manager of Park Café, said his restaurant serves MSG-free food and follows the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) food preparation management system from the United Kingdom.
“Good health is main factor for people’s success – that is why we build trust among our customers by guaranteeing that our food is safe and healthy,” he said, adding that the majority of Park Café’s clients are office staff, government officers, and business people who use the place to eat and network. “We continue to grow every year and our customers also experience growth.”
Park Café’s operations are bigger than ever and tend toward the more professional in the industry. The firm has its own professional training centre to be sure that all staff at Park Café are skilled in an industry context and professional in their work. Park Café is also on its way to offering franchises for the local market. Sengly said there will be five branches of Park Café operating under franchisees by early 2017. Park Café will open two more branches next year, bringing the total number of outlets to 17 in 2017.
Meanwhile, among consumers such as Chan Piseth, the trend to eat safe food will only increase, and food safety will become a greater priority. “I dare to spend a little bit more on quality food from reliable sources rather than ignore food safety and spend money on medical bills,” he said.