Four decades as a general manager is something, but becoming the instrumental part of the restaurant he’s been working at and also having the opportunity to serve international VVIPs is an achievement of its own.
Let us introduce you to the man – Oom Mucharam Endi.
The history of Indonesian F&B industry gives credit not just for visionary chefs, business owners, or those who are well-versed with food such as journalists, teachers, or even common foodies. In fact, there should always be a place for people who dedicate themselves in the frontline of service, such as for this instance – a seasoned general manager in the service for almost four decades.
Oom Mucharam Endi has seen through the thick and thin of managing restaurant affairs with the bulk of his experience mostly dedicated for Oasis – a legendary premium Indonesian restaurant in Jakarta. In his line of work, he has experienced how difficult it is to manage restaurants; starting from the hotels he had worked for previously and the unique challenges found only at Oasis.
The early stage of Pak Oom’s career saw him entering the hospitality industry without actually ever aspiring for it. It all started with his love for challenges.
“It took me only awhile to decide that I should embark on this career by accepting a job at a hotel in Medan back in the 1970s”, tells Pak Oom.
“I wanted to test myself with a career at the restaurant because of its never ending challenges. With a little bit of hard work, I was entrusted with a higher position in the hotel’s restaurant”, says Pak Oom surely yet modestly.
After some time, Medan proved to be too small for Pak Oom. The hospitality industry back then was still underdeveloped there or anywhere in Indonesia. He quickly set himself on a route back to Jakarta after he sees the earliest opportunity.
“Even in the 70s, there were only a handful of big hotels in Jakarta. I was admitted to the latest one in Jakarta – the Kartika Plaza. It was located side by side with Hotel Indonesia and no less luxurious. To be with a brand new hotel in the capital city, well, that’s clearly something”, reminisces Pak Oom.
Similar with the celebrated Nirwana Lounge of Hotel Indonesia, Kartika Plaza had its own premiere club that was ultimately entrusted to the adept hands of Pak Oom as the general manager.
Not long, he was offered an intriguing new job as the assistant manager by his former superior at Oasis. “I was honored but uneasy at the same time. It was never about the money at all but I decided to give him a hand”, says Pak Oom, remembering how grateful he is now by accepting that fateful choice.
“Despite the long hours, I was proud that we ultimately finalized our rijsttafel concept and I was tasked to manage the manpower and the service”, says Pak Oom. “Imagine if there were at least five groups who order rijsttafel at the same time, I had to allocate at least 60 maidens to serve every one!”
As we all know, Oasis Restaurant’s rijsttafel concept requires exactly 12 maidens to serve one group of guests and each is tasked to bring one special Indonesian dish.
A few years later, after a series of foreign managers who reigned over Oasis, it was finally time for Pak Oom to rise to the occasion. “The owner wanted to appoint an Indonesian for the job and I happily accepted his bidding. The rest is history as you can see”, says Pak Oom cheerfully smiling.
Through the hard earned reputation over the past decades, Oasis Restaurant has been receiving international personages as its guests. Pak Oom personally receives Zinedine Zidane, Phil Collins, Evander Holyfield, and country leaders – such as the kings and queens and princes of European countries; presidents, chancellors, and prime ministers such as Angela Merkel, Margaret Thatcher, Mahathir Mohamad, and also the Indonesian presidents from time to time.
“Bill Clinton and the first lady visit here was probably the most dramatic visit ever. How could we were not surprised? We were notified only around 20 minutes before their arrival!” remembers Pak Oom.
He quickly arranged everything according to what the Secret Service asked from seating position, examination of the food by presidential doctors, and performing the task he’s excelled at – as a professional general manager of the restaurant.
“I personally took care of their needs and even notifying them that some of the dishes were a bit spicy. Mr Clinton liked it, although he was sweating because of it. Well, it was such a memorable experience”, says Pak Oom reminiscing the moments.
Today, at his retirement age, Pak Oom is still entrusted to take care of Oasis like he has been doing for so long. “The owner wanted me to still work for them. Me, on the other hand, has always been enjoying my role here. It’s like a win-win solution for everyone”, he gleefully confesses.
There’s no telling what’s next for Pak Oom. Even on the spur of the moment, he feels that one must always give his best wherever he is. In Pak Oom’s case it’s for the Oasis, but we must remember also that it came from someone who inadvertently decided his path of career in hospitality industry.
Perhaps in our case the question would be – are we going to be as dedicated as Pak Oom with whatever the path that we choose? Through this story, we know that Pak Oom has the key that we seek all this time.
Featured in THE FOODIE MAGAZINE Sept 2015 edition
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