“IN RUNNING our coffee and bakery house, the key to driving the business is to do everything perfectly so that customers promote our products by word of mouth,” said Nattamon Holmberg, 41, owner of Chivit Thamma Da Coffee House.
Chivit Thamma Da – which means ‘simple life’ in English – has been awarded a “Best of Wongnai 2016”! rating by Wongnai, by far the most important restaurant guide for the Thai market.
The Chiang Mai coffee house has been rated “TOP CHOICE 2015” by the Chinese travel site www.lianorg.com.
Nattamon established the business after marrying Joakim Holmberg, 47, who is from Sweden.
“I resigned from my job, as an air stewardess at Thai Airways International, after getting married and moved to China to stay with my husband, as that was where he was doing business. Over the course of a year in China, I learned how to cook and also had the time to consider what I and my husband could do together in Thailand,” she said.
After the pair returned to Thailand, they decided to live in Chiang Rai province because of its tranquillity and closeness to nature, which suited the family.
Nattamon then spent two years studying coffee and bakery catering with a view to setting up her own operation.
“I decided to go into coffee and bakery business because when I travelled around the world as an air stewardess, I loved to sit at the coffee houses in Europe and elsewhere. When I decided to go into business myself, I believed I should do something that I loved, so a coffee and bakery house was the answer,” she explained.
Two years after learning how to make delicious coffee, soft drinks and bakery items, she and Joakim spent Bt10 million of their savings to construct – in colonial architecture style – a coffee house on one rai (0.2 hectare) of land close to the Kok river in Chiang Rai province.
One year after the building and landscaping work was completed, Chivit Thamma Da Coffee House opened for business, generating sales of Bt9,000 on its very first day.
“This [level of sales] was a pleasant surprise, and gave us confidence in the potential success of the business,” she said.
Now, four years on, the establishment has average daily sales of Bt50,000.
On the back of this success, Nattamon is investing up to Bt10 million in establishing an organic farm to grow all the fruit and vegetables needed for the restaurant side of the coffee and bakery house business.
Located at Doi Mae Salong in Chiang Rai province, the farm will start growing plants next year.
“This will meet our business concept of serving clean food to our customers,” she said.
“When running a food business, the quality of the raw materials, the taste of the food, and the atmosphere of the house are the keys to success. When the customers love your food, they will spread the word, and some of them also share my coffee house on their Facebook and Instagram pages.
“This is the power of social media – promoting our restaurant so that all visitors to Chiang Rai have to check in at my shop,” she added.