In 2016 the Swedish-American trio at Sapparot Group boosted Rocket Coffeebar to be more distinctly Scandinavian, adding ‘Nordic Café’, currently with outlets on Sathorn Road, soi 12; Sukhumvit road, soi 49 and also with their Rocket X as a more take-away concept for further expansion in 2017.
“It’s just an add-on to explain via the logo what we are in fact doing, from just seeing ‘Rocket’ on a sign. So we added this tagline, so guests can read out that it is café and with a Scandinavian concept,” explains Ben-David Sorum.
Part of the enhanced Scandinavian branding – Rocket being, interior-wise, already fully Scandinavian in terms of design – also saw the launch of the ‘Nordic Collection’ menu earlier in the year, with a truly Nordic heritage including superbly made dishes of some true classics: The Daily Hash, or ‘Pyttipanna’ (in Swedish) with a modern twist, and Swedish meatballs. Also Pan-seared mackerel adds to the choices. And then some superb Open-faced Smorrebrod (Smørrebrød in Danish), including Gravlax, Roast pork (thickly sliced roast pork loin, chunkie curried Danish remoulade, crispy challots, pickles on Danish rye sandwich) and Toast Skagen! There are also egg dishes and other Scandinavian breakfast items.
A German-Thai chef who understands European food very well makes sure the food concept is up to the standard of expectations from discerning guests and owners.
“It is being appreciated, and images on the menu also make people understand the dishes. But in general we have good feedback; there are not many Scandinavian choices here in Thailand so not that many have tried out Nordic café food previously,” says Ben-David.
On the coffee front they have served for example the single origin coffee summer selection, served with a palate cleanser of sparkling mineral water from the Eifel Mountains of Germany with each cup: Tanzania Killimanjaroo, Brazil Pedra Redonda or Ethiopia Aricha.
Their Espressos is described as follows: ‘At Rocket we use a lighter roast than what is traditionally used in Italian Espresso and we increase the amount of ground coffee to 18g per shot, which is the equivalent of a Double Ristretto. This results in a rich, aromatic and intense espresso that holds its own against the creaminess of milk and the dilution of water ensuring your coffee is always full flavored no matter how you prefer it. And it gives you a good jolt of energy as well.’
Rocket has also launched their branded bottled ice coffee, which he says is something growing.
“We have started with some retail products. For the coffee many buy and bring home but we also get quite many queries from hotels and cafes to buy our products. So that is something we are working on right now to see if we can obtain all the licences and approvals required for that. It’s much stricter than one can think, to be able to sell commercially in retail.”
They also started selling their granola [breakfast food], cookies and other sweeties in retail. “Our granola is selling very well.”
Furthermore, they entered big time to be smack in the centre or Thonglor’s hot entertainment zone, with several outlets at 72 Courtyard.
There they have their second Lady Brett restaurant, since March 2016, a “barbeque restaurant with focus on local produce but presented more with American style”. Furthermore, on top of Lady Brett,is their second craft cocktail bar U.N.C.L.E.
“People are increasingly noticing us and find that we have a cocktail bar serving high-quality cocktails at the starting price of 195 baht in the middle of Thonglor, with top ingredients in a designer setting – that’s very generous,” thinks Ben-David, “plus we have disc jockey entertainment and live reggae every Thursday.”
Furthermore they are operating a concept from Australia called Touche Hombre, owned by a friend of theirs in Melbourne.
Since Sapparot Group first set up on opening their concepts on Sathorn soi 12 the restaurant, bar and café scene has changed dramatically.
“The amount of restaurants and cafes is bizarre. A number of new outlets are opening every month but many are also closing,” Ben-David comments on the scene. “I view competition as good and bad; what’s good is that it pushes everybody to deliver something better. The customers get more choices and then it pushes operators to get better, while at the same time there are too many on the scene now.”
“For people who are very serious about the product one represents, such as us, it as its pros and cons. Our prices are higher, as we have higher level of quality on everything from staff and ingredients to location and design. That’s the positioning we have taken, so we charge a bit more for that. The competition is what it is; one has to adapt and to be better than everybody else, while sticking to the concept.”
But there is also another change that is less positive for restaurateurs: “Competition is one thing, the overall economy and stability is another matter, and that has to do with people’s spending power. That one is very different now from what it was before,” say the Swede, as he explains that their average customers are spending much when dining and drinking these days.
Sapparot Group continue their adventure and new projects will see the light of day during 2017.