Gobbling up marketshare in the quick service restaurant industry
By Junita Thakorlal
“Give me a high five!” Operations Managers Suraj Sharma and Milind Palashetkar demonstrate this shared hand gesture, followed by an automatic eruption of laughter, as their employees and customers look on, smiling.
Although we may not realize that the subliminal messaging behind this gesture we learn as children, is one filled with positive endorphins and encouragement. It’s this feeling of trust and happiness that is behind the name of the latest new quick service restaurant in town, Hi5 24.
Serving baked and fried chicken dishes, this restaurant on the corner of Main Street and Marine Drive in Vancouver does brisk business for having opened its doors only 6 short weeks ago. “I think people are really conscious these days, searching out healthier food choices,” says Palashetkar. “We offer tasty and healthy options for dining and I think people really like that, especially at night when there are few choices.”
Situated on the one of Vancouver’s busiest intersections, accessible to multiple municipalities by just a short drive, patrons and especially after-hours patrons, come in droves to enjoy meal combos that start at only $8.50.
“Food service is complex, especially when comes to safety, and we take food safety very seriously,” says Palashetkar, who comes with years of training in a 5-star luxury hotel. He was sponsored here to Canada by Tim Hortons where he put his staff and owner to work, managing operations for 3 stores within a relatively short amount of time. “I create systems and processes, something that has been ingrained into me, and it’s what motivates me to keep this place running so smoothly right out of the gate.”
Hi5 24’s policy is to serve clean food so customers can be rest assured that there is no monosodium glutamate, additives, chemicals, or colouring in their food. Farm-fresh poultry is locally sourced and marinated in-house. “Nothing is frozen here. We don’t even have a freezer on site,” claims Sharma with a look of disapproval. “Freezing meat spoils the taste, and we want people to come and actually taste the meaning of ‘fresh’. All of our patties are made fresh in house, and our chicken marinated in our special hand-made breading.”
Having passed through rigorous rounds of Fraser Health inspections, Sharma further explains, “cleanliness is standard practice here, from sanitation to the oils we use for frying, it is our top priority to continue with routine checks to ensure safety and tasty remains top priority in how we manage the restaurant. And we utilize the 24-hour clock to help us keep everything clean when there are fewer in the restaurant.”
The idea of Hi5 24 was born from an idea between 5 friends to bring fresh and tasty and accessibility together. Alongside Sharma and Palashetkar is Monoranjan Moitra, who handles marketing, Monish Chakraborty who oversees accounting and finance practices, and Gun Oh, who manages the supply chain. They learned the necessary skills and contacts through their combined 80 years of experience to push forward their new concept.
When asked about if the concept was accepted by the public, all we had to do was look around to see everyone enjoying their tasty dishes. And it was hard to ignore the colourful hand prints on the walls with personalized messages from happy customers giving Hi5 24 – a high five.
“Patrons liked the idea of baked, but preferred the taste of fried. And so, we all decided to offer both where everyone has a chance to try something they prefer,” shares Palashetkar.
Alongside their mains, Hi5 24 offers breakfast options, salad and potato wedges. They also offer spicy baked chicken for those that prefer a little zip.
A 15-store expansion plan is already in the works as the partners think ahead.