One Shall Serve More than Good Food to Run a Food Business

Ezrani Julinda

Summary: Reck visited his favorite fried-rice place and found it facing an end. His thoughts pictured how the characteristics of young generation (his generation) could affect Bass as the owner of the fried-rice store.

“How’s it goin’?” I greeted Bass as I entered the store.

“Hey, Reck! Ah… life has talked. I’ll start packing my stuff tonight, and tomorrow I must leave,” said Bass while cutting some garlic. His breathe sounded heavy.

The store was a tent—a kind of food store that could be found so many in Jatinangor. Big red letters of NASI GORENG are written on the outside of the tent. I sat on the chair and putting my bag and my handbook of business on the table beside me.

“Really? It can’t be. Isn’t there any other chance for you to keep opening the store here?”

“I don’t think so. There’s no chance for me to gamble again… But it’s okay! I’ll bring my wife and my children and start opening a new store back in my hometown. There must be more customers, although not much,” he said, taking a mop and cleaned the table beside the stove. His belly sometimes hit the edge of the table as he cleaned it. There was a silence filling the air in this fried-rice store.

“Anyway, you may be my last customer. Wanna order like usual?” he asked me.

“Wow! Lucky me, then. Of course, I want one, please,” I told him, and he started cooking the fried-rice the way I like it; not too spicy, with half-cooked sunny side up egg. I took my cellphone and started opening Instagram, scrolling my thumb through the screen. The aroma of the seasoning fried in oil filled this tent-store. Later on, a bit scent of chilli came to my nose. His fried-rice is always the best to me in this town.

That aroma brings me back to the memory when I first came to his fried-rice store. A tiring day which brought me came here with my ospek friends, and we were amazed with the tastiness of his freid-rice. As a big fan of shallot and cucumber, I asked him for more pickles.

“Can I have some more pickles, sir?”

“Of course, of course. Anyway, don’t call me ‘sir’, just call me ‘Bass’. Here you go,” he said, while giving me the pickles.

“Thank you, Bass. Is that your name? That’s really cool,” I said, kind of unsure that it’s his real name.

“Yes, ‘Bass’ is my nick name,” he said.

“What’s your full name, Bass?” one of my friends asked him.

“Basuki Cahyono,” he said, with his Javanese accent. We all laughed for his answer.

Bass was pouring the rice into the frying pan, and started mixing it with the seasoning with his spatula.

“So, Bass, it has been two years since I first ate here. How time flies,” I started the conversation, while pouring some hot tea from the pot to my glass. Some of the tea spilled on my phone, “Shit,” I muttered, and then took some tissues.

He laughed, with his remarkable heavy voice, then, continued,

“Yes, how fast the time is. It makes me remember when I first open this store 4 years ago in this town, full of hungry college students, like you, ha-ha-ha. Here used to be so many customers, and they all liked my fried rice. They came here to my tent whenever they feel like they want to eat fried rice. But, people change, new students came, my customers are graduated, there was a new fried-rice place and it’s somehow more fancy and other things I cannot defeat,” he told his story.

“Still, they cannot defeat the taste of your fried rice, Bass,” I commended. It just needed a branding.

“Yeah… but somehow it is not the main thing that matters again,” he said, putting a plate of fried-rice on my table.

I started eating. It was true, I thought, that somehow to run a food business, only by serving good food is not enough. You need more to keep your business alive. At least that’s what I learned from the class. Yet, it was hard for me to logically accept that fact when eating Bass’s fried-rice, for the fried rice tasted really good. It always did.

I was then thinking about Bass’s story. Yeah, there was a new fried-rice store near the mall. My friend Zara asked me to go there once.

“So, what are we gonna eat? Let’s see…” Zara asked, and then she took her phone.

“Hmmm, Reck! Reck kamana?” she giggled, asking for my opininion with the pun that most of my friends gave of my name.

“I wanna fried-rice, you guys want it?” I offered them.

“Fried-rice seems nice,” Dewo said.

“Oh, I know a place!” Zara said, “You know a new place near the mall? They sell fried-rice, and the place seems nice. My friend just go there, check out, this-is-so-aaawesome!” she showed us her phone, and it looks like one of her friend posted her picture on her Path when she ate there. I must admit, the interior of the place was good-looking in the picture, and in her caption it was written “Finally, Mafoya’s fried-rice! Yummy!”, and some emoticons which describe how delicious the fried-rice was.

“I think it’s gonna be cool too if we take pictures there,” she said.

“Ok, let’s go there!” Dewo decided.

So yeah, we went there. The place was pretty fancy. There were murals, decorated walls, typography such as ‘Eat Well, Live Well’, or ‘People who love to eat are always the best people’ (really?). There were writings on the wall, and as the result, there were many people taking pictures here and there, and in several corners.

The fried rice was really, really, really spicy. Lucky me I ordered the first level, because I don’t really into chilli, and even the first level was really, really, really spicy—at least to me. But, my two friends here ordered the fifth level, and of course it was too spicy for them. Nevertheless, they seemed to enjoy it. But, well, we spent most of our money on glasses of sweet iced tea.

There was my dormitory friend, too. Once in a starving night…

“I’m starved, let’s go eat,” Alexo said.

“Okay, call the other in their room. Where are we going?” I asked.

“I know a place. Mafoya’s fried-rice near the ma–”

“Nope. I went there and it was spicy as hell. I know a place better if you want fried-rice.”

“That’s the point; they give levels on their fried-rice! It looks challenging. Look out this video,” he showed me his Snapchat and there was a video of his friends eating fried-rice, laughing and sweating while conducting a mini-competition of suffering the spiciness.

“Looks fun, doesn’t it?”

“But, I couldn’t barely taste anything but chilli,” I gave another reason why whe shouldn’t go there.

“Just order fried-rice with zero level of chilli. Easy.” He said.

However, we went there.

I was on my half-way eating Bass’s fried rice. The egg was fried nicely—it was perfectly half-cooked. When I cut the yolk, the inside was melted through. Bass was really good on cooking the egg, and it wasn’t easy.

I finished my fried-rice, and I asked Bass to cook me three more to bring home. Two of them were for my dormitory friends, and one for my dinner. They chatted in the group, asking if anybody still out and could buy them food, so I said I could help them if they’re okay with delicious fried-rice.

“Here’s your fried-rice, Reck,” Bass handed me the plastic bag with boxes of fried-rice inside.

“Thank you, Bass. How sad… I guess this is gonna be your last fried rice I eat,” I said.

He laughed again, “You can come to my hometown whenever you’ve got time, or I can visit here sometimes,” he said, sounded sad.

“So long, Bass. I hope there will be many customers for you. Good luck.”

“So long, my friend. Good luck with your study.”

We shook hands. At the time, I thought people just have to know how good Bass’s fried-rice was.

I walked through the pavement to reach the ojek, reached my phone, and started scrolling. There were some newses on the timeline about the demonstration by employees at the university, online-ojek promotion, and call for tenant in my department traditional big meals festival…

Suddenly, an idea of helping Bass was striking my head, and I ran back to Bass’s store.

References:

-Conversation with Riva Perdana Sidi about the close of Martabak Paris (in front of Hipotesa luar)

-Conversation with Nia Saraswati about how social media affects young generation

-“This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona” by Sherman Alexie

-Nasi Goreng near Dunkin’ Donuts and Nasi Goreng Mafia

-Basuki Sunarno, my Junior Highscool Scouting teacher, for the character’s name

Word count: 1391 words

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