Seizing the opportunity to obtain expert branding tips and adding his own unique spin, business owner Arafat Farugue has refreshed the identity, décor and marketing strategy of his restaurant Saimai by Thai I M – and is reaping the rewards.

Arafat Farugue consulted Realise Business Advisor Viktoria Darabi knowing he had to meet the challenge presented by new competitors and a changing environment in North Parramatta. With Victoria’s support and encouragement, he began the process of enhancing and rebranding his 13-year-old business.

His goals were to update his business and stand out in a crowded marketplace without losing loyal customers with a focus on:

  • Refreshing the business name but retaining brand recognition
  • Improving Google and Zomato ratings
  • Changing the décor
  • Enhancing plating to stand out in the crowd.

Victoria Darabi says that Arafat followed a suite of tips that she has developed to help restaurants/cafes build their business, especially those establishments impacted by the Parramatta Light Rail construction works.

Arafat successfully rebranded the restaurant as ‘Saimai by Thai I M’, giving a nod to the Thai I M heritage and retaining the valuable Zomato and Google ratings. A change of décor with more greenery, whimsical flower garlands and swinging cane basket seats has lifted the vibe. Categorising the cuisine as ‘Neo Thai’, he updated the menu and introduced attractive plating that matched the new contemporary Thai twist.

As a veteran of the restaurant industry Arafat added his own spin to the marketing strategy developed during his consultation with Viktoria. To reflect the changing world of restaurant custom in the digital age, he contributed some creative flourishes to keep the Instagrammers happy. The quirky “Sweet but a Psycho” Neon Light he installed in the restaurant is particularly popular and savvy customers have been making a beeline for the installation to have their photo taken in front of it.

Arafat has actively harnessed the energy and influence of Instagram bloggers. Around 60 bloggers from all around Sydney have visited his rebooted restaurant to savour the cuisine. With reviewers like Weekend Food Escapes praising the “very nice” staff, singling out the salt and pepper squid as, “a delicious dish that I’d definitely order again”.

By contributing their reviews of Saimai at Thai I M and their gorgeous food images, the food bloggers of Sydney have made “quite a difference”, Arafat reveals. He explains proudly, “Saimai has received a lot of compliments from social media with some bloggers even saying we are the most Instagrammable Thai restaurant in Sydney!”

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