Be like Jay Fai

It’s one of the highly popular restaurants in Bangkok, Thailand. And not because it’s fine-dining (it is not) or fast food but for reasons you and I probably won’t know. Why? Because neither of us is getting in before January next year. They’re fully booked! Now that’s an achievement for a restaurant that’s basically serves street food out of a bare-bones dining room not more than a 50 square feet (give or take a few)!

Yes, there are workarounds to getting in. Like standing in queue at 1 pm between Tuesdays and Saturdays to get that “token number.” And even if you have it, if you’re not around when they call you in evening, you will have to start over the next day. Ouch! I think I should resolve to get a table there just because it’s so hard to get one! Certainly the makings of a worthwhile challenge in my bucket list.

Challenge or not, it’s admirable for a small business to be able to achieve the level of popularity and success in our culture. We’re all about going ubercool or just super fast and there are more a dozen like those in Bangkok. Jay Fai tapped the market that’s somewhere in between. And I’m quite sure it can’t be just about the food. Perhaps, it’s the customer service or an authentic Thai experience they provide that’s hard to replicate or find elsewhere. Or maybe it was a mention in the popular Lonely Planet travel guide that made them a hit!

The challenge with hits is that they’re short-term and have a limited shelf-life. Once over, only a few people keep coming back to it. That’s exactly why it’s recommended to not chase the hit but instead go for the specific. And I think that’s where this eclectic restaurant excels — focusing on the specific. Just that theirs happens to be tourists like us! That is their minimum viable audience.

And can they complain for staying focused?

P.S. Oh, did I tell you it’s a Michelin star restaurant? Before you start judging, let me ask you to think “how they go here” instead of who they are.

By Sunil Nair

Nurturing leaders of tomorrow.

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