Pak Paulus And Ultimo

Published 04 February 2007   

Pak Paulus came to Bali late last year and turned around one of the biggest white elephant dining experiences in town. FRV investigates how.

Pak Paulus M. Lachinsky came from Jakarta to Bali and took up residence at Ultimo restaurant in August last year. He was the original Maitre’d at, and oversaw the opening of, Toscana at the original site in Oberoi when it opened in 2002. He went back to manage the Sportsman’s Bar in Jakarta, where he had been working since 1989, when it became apparent that Toscana Bali was not going to have the same success as its cousin in the big smoke. Three years later, Toscana is gone, Ultimo has reincarnated twice, with limited success, and Paulus has been resurrected and dropped back into the thick of things in the hope that he or something almost miraculous could save the place.

Besides wrenching the prices back by the collar and slamming them to the floor, Paulus supplied one thing that was missing in the restaurant from the beginning; a publican. From day one, Pak Paulus began greeting diners at the entrance of the restaurant, talking and showing them to their tables, making them feel at home. He, in fact, was warmly introducing himself to the regular diners – there weren’t many others at that point besides a die hard group who admired the menu and cuisine of Ultimo. It worked; they kept coming back and bringing their friends.

After slashing the prices to the minimum, he then gave discounts, on top of that, for certain areas of the restaurant. Some people were calling him crazy, others a genius. Whatever you wanted to call him, the proof was in the Cabanara, so to speak, and the restaurant slowly built a larger and larger cliental that today makes it one of the busiest in busy Eat Street. “You have to give them what they want,” says the enthusiastic Paulus. “You first attract the people to the door and then keep them on side with the three basics—taste, price and service. I was lucky when I first came here. We had a good space, a good chef and good staff. All we had to do was refine the menu and get the people through the door.”

The Polish/Chinese heritage and Jakarta born Maitre’d has an ease with the public which allows customers to feel welcome and secure that the food and service is going to be top notch. This personal touch and especially the ease with which he handles foreigners, probably coming from his many years managing the Sportsman Bar in Blok M Jakarta, are surely parts of Ultimo’s new found success. He’s also worked with a lot of chefs and knows how to deliver from any kitchen what the guests require. Expats can be a fickle and demanding lot, but they surely are not fools. The main success of Ultimo right now is that they have Paulus’ three fundamental points down pat—taste, price and service are all in the correct alignment and heading north. “We want to give an honest product to the guests. No messing around. The service, the quality of the food, and the price; Bingo! The only reason people come here now is the combination of these basics,” concludes Paulus.

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