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#WeekdayAttitude

Marc Morakotwichitkarn

Cafe Owner

Photo by: @mewwjk

I was one of the cafe hoppers myself

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What are you up to?

I currently have a day job and a night job. During the day I help with my family garment business, and at night I manage my 2nd restaurant called HighThyme x Top Chef.

My family runs a garment supplier business. My role is to modernize the operating system within the company. It started 30 years ago and everything is still done manually. I spend half of my daytime on Excel and half at the factory working on people management there. I added micromanagement system and quality control points to the assembly line, making sure the quality of the garment is up to the standard.

What about High Thyme?

Before High Thyme x Top Chef, I used to own High Thyme cafe which sadly already closed down because of some contract issues.

I opened High Thyme cafe after I graduated from Architecture school. I always wanted it to own a cafe because I’m one of those cafe hoppers that only hang out in cafes. I just love being in cafe environment. I also love hospitality, cooking for people, and meeting new people. Being a fresh grad from Architecture school, I jumped right into designing the cafe, but I had absolutely no idea about how to run a business.

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What was the first thing that you did after having the idea?

The first thing that I did was looking for a venue to open my cafe. I found this venue near my university and thought that was perfect because people around that age were my target group. Being around their age too then, I knew what they like. I also knew a lot of people who studied there so this could be our new hang out place.


After getting the floor plan, I designed the place, looked for contractors, decided on the target group, budgeted everything, and made a full deck presentation to pitch to my dad (which ended up being where my initial funding came from). It took me 4 months to get everything set up and ready for the opening.

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Did everything go as planned?

No! As I mentioned that I didn’t have any business knowledge at all and I only cared about the aesthetics of the place. I didn’t know how to talk to contractors, I didn’t know how to calculate the turnover rate of that expensive furniture or anything like that. Everything took 2 months longer than expected.

YOU LIVE, YOU LEARN

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So did things get better after you opened the cafe?

Again, with my lack of experience, the first 6 months after opening was super hectic. There was a lot of readjustment in term of operation and goals. For example, I needed to rebuild the whole kitchen. My initial plan was to have more drinks on the menu, and only a small selection of food. Turned out people commanded food. They wanted a one-stop shop for food and drinks. The kitchen was too small, not enough equipment and space, and very badly ventilated. I ended up having to rebuild the whole kitchen which turned out to cost me a lot more. An outdoor beer bar, projector, new speakers, etc. were also added during that time.


If I had a chance to do everything from the start again, I would definitely go work at another cafe and learn how cafes are really run before throwing myself into it like this.

Again, with my lack of experience, the first 6 months after opening was super hectic. There was a lot of readjustment in term of operation and goals. For example, I needed to rebuild the whole kitchen. My initial plan was to have more drinks on the menu, and only a small selection of food. Turned out people commanded food. They wanted a one-stop shop for food and drinks. The kitchen was too small, not enough equipment and space, and very badly ventilated. I ended up having to rebuild the whole kitchen which turned out to cost me a lot more. An outdoor beer bar, projector, new speakers, etc. were also added during that time.

If I had a chance to do everything from the start again, I would definitely go work at another cafe and learn how cafes are really run before throwing myself into it like this.

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How did you finally get it to where it was?

After adjusting a lot of things and gaining more experience, everything started to fall into place. I was also lucky that I got some interest from the press. Someone who worked at a well-known food channel found us through my customer’s Instagram post and came to interview me about the cafe. Then people start hearing more about it and more press kept coming in. At one point, I was doing an interview every week, which of course brought more customers in as well.

What was special about High Thyme cafe?

I think it was our concept, ‘Experiment with your Creativity’. We set the cafe theme to be Alchemist/ Experimental lab which was a hit for my target group. We gave people samples of new drinks in those little lab tubes and sometimes even put the customized drink that customers order in the menu and name it after them.

After 3 years of building High Thyme to where it was, I had to finally close it down. My contract with the building ran out and was having a bit of a problem with selling alcohol near the university.

But now you already have a new High Thyme?

Yes, now we have High Thyme x Top Chef which I worked with my dad on. We used the old system from High Thyme cafe for most of the operations. For example, the inventory system. I learned the hard way of how important that is because the first 4 months of opening High Thyme cafe I was just losing so much money for not properly keeping track of our ingredient stock. High Thyme x Top Chef is different from the cafe because it’s a full on restaurant and only open in the evening.

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Lifestyle?

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What's your day-to-day schedule like now?

I’m always at a cafe. I’m one of those customers who sit at your cafe all day with their computer and would never leave. Most of the work I do is on my computer now. There are some days that I go to the garment factory and some days I work at the restaurant.

How do you take care of yourself?

I go to the gym...pretty boring haha. I try to occasionally do other things like scuba diving or climbing. Another thing I used to do a lot was to carry mineral water spray and a handkerchief everywhere. I sweat a lot and felt like I needed to be able to wash my face on the go. I don’t do that so much anymore because I feel kind of embarrassed. I also like to use perfume.

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