Where we eat, how we eat and what we eat is an ever-changing process. For Tina Kevorkian, the owner of Mississauga’s Buka Maranga Café and Catering, that process demands she keep learning and changing too.
In February of 2018 Kevorkian renovated and re-launched the business she had owned for 15 years. She kept old favorites like bagels made in-house and locally-roasted coffee, but re-vamped the menu to focus on the healthy and wholesome dishes that have become the catering business and café’s mainstay. Like most entrepreneurs, Kevorkian knows exactly what her business is good at and what her customers want.
“I call it fast-casual,” Kevorkian said in a recent telephone interview, “but of uncompromising quality. Class. That’s what is special about us. We pay attention to the presentation and we don’t compromise on service, this is not fast food. We keep everything at a reasonable price point so it really is an every-day eats kind of place where you don’t have to sacrifice on presentation and care and service.”
The re-launch three years ago was just part of the on-going evolution of Buka Maranga.
“We started working on going digital in January with plans to launch the system in March,” Kevorkian remembered.
With COVID-19 forcing the restaurant to close for four months that March, the new [digital] system was ready to meet new challenges when the GTA entered phase 2 of re-opening in July.
“We have a really comprehensive program where people can order ahead and get curbside pick-up,” Kevorkian said. “A lot of places have QR codes you can use to look at the menu, but ours is more detailed. You can look at the menu, order, pay, get points in our loyalty program and even order and pay with points. It eliminates a lot of person-to-person contact and foot traffic through the café, so our plan pre-COVID actually prepared us for increased safety right now.”
The digital ordering and payment system enhanced the use and safety of the patio that was added in July.
“A lot of the people who are home need to get out and eat healthy and wholesome,” Kevorkian said. “We are doing well based on what is happening in the rest of the GTA.”
Part of the success of the Buka Maranga’s on-going evolution can be attributed to Kevorkian’s involvement with the Mississauga Business Enterprise Centre (MBEC).
MBEC offers a variety of courses, consulting sessions and webinars to the small business community in Mississauga.
“I took classes in digital strategy, in email marketing, and I had a one-on-one session with a marketing consultant,” Kevorkian said. “It’s hugely helpful because entrepreneurs know we need to be exposed to information, but we work so hard we need help. I mean, where do you start, who guides you to begin? Being a manager in business can be a lonely place, so it’s nice to have an environment where people are going through a similar process. MBEC is such a good place to connect.”
MBEC has been able to deliver many resources online during the pandemic. To get started, entrepreneurs and small business operators in Mississauga can find a sample of current events and offerings by visiting the web site at mississauga.ca/smallbusinesstraining
While there is much no one knows about what will happen to the business community during the rest of the pandemic, the on-going evolution of Buka Maranga shows some of the possibilities available.
“Be encouraged, stay encouraged,” is the advice Kevorkian has to give other small business owners. “It’s important to get outside your comfort zone and figure out ways to reinvent yourself. Some people will have no alternatives, but attitude is important, grit is important, being open to other opportunities is important. Just concentrate on keeping yourself open to those opportunities when they appear.”
The Mississauga Business Enterprise Centre (MBEC) is a business unit of the City of Mississauga’s Economic Development Office. MBEC is your central source for business information, resources and guidance. For information and guidance, our team is currently available to serve you remotely. Please contact us by phone or email.