World Chefs: Ong plans comeback after economic knock-down

Tue Jul 21, 2009 2:58pm EDT
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By Richard Leong

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Pastry chef Pichet Ong hopes for sweet comeback after the recession dealt him a bitter blow earlier this year.

After a drop in customers Ong shut his Manhattan restaurant P*ong and the attached bakery Batch less than two years after they opened in 2007.

The Thai native, known for his innovative play between sweet and savory ingredients, is working to relaunch Batch, but has no immediate plans to open another restaurant.

The 40-year-old spoke to Reuters about the impact of the recession on his business and his love of desserts.

Q: How did the recession hurt your restaurant?

A: "Our check average dropped. The number of customers dropped. People going for the longer tasting menu dropped. What really hurt us was the fall and winter when we had expected holiday business. It didn't pick up as people were nervous about losing their jobs. After the holidays, it seemed to have picked up. It was strange, but the numbers turned up but they weren't enough to save the business."

Q: Do you think you over-reached as a pastry chef in opening a restaurant?

A: "No, I don't. There have been plenty of pastry chefs who have gone into the restaurant business. There were some who failed and some who succeeded."   Continued...

<p>Pichet Ong is seen in this undated file photo. REUTERS/Undated handout/Pate Eng</p>