Azat Nazmutdinov: ''Italians should eat Tatar kystyby instead of pizza''

The founder of Kystyby chain tells about the specifics of the halal market, the popularity of fast-casual and the involvement of the Tatars with burgers

Azat Nazmutdinov: ''Italians should eat Tatar kystyby instead of pizza'' Photo: Rinat Nazmetdinov

At the end of 2016, on the market of Kazan catering there appeared the new ethnic fast food chain Kystyby. Its founder is Azat Nazmutdinov, ex-partner of the Tatar brand Tyubetey. Today Kystyby is a chain of family-run establishments of halal format in Kazan and Naberezhnye Chelny. Nazmutdinov told the interview to Realnoe Vremya what fast-casual is, the problems of Tatar cuisine and the specifics of the halal brand.

''Fast-casual is the most promising format today''

You were one of the founders of Tubetey chain. But then you broke up with the partners. What were the real reasons?

It's simple. Each of the four partners had their own vision of business development. My views were different. We realized that this greatly hindered the project, so I decided to leave. The project Tubetey was invented by the team, I took on launching, but the main creator of the project was Sultan Safin, so he remained at the head of this chain.

Fast-casual is the middle between fast food and restaurant. Our menu is more varied than in fast food, and the quality of products is higher, interesting interior, but not as rich as in the restaurant

Why did you decide to continue the theme of national cuisine?

I was really excited about the idea. First, we eat only halal products. This is a close topic for my family. Second, the project is a family one. In religion, much attention is paid to strengthening of family ties. We wanted to create an institution where families and relatives of different generations could gather at the same table. This is the only way to exchange culture, knowledge and education. People lack it today. Therefore, it was decided to launch a chain of family format, halal, with affordable prices.

You position Kystyby as an institution of fast-casual. How is it different from fast food?

Fast food is distinguished by low prices, concise menu and high speed service. The interior is casual, it does not retain people. Expensive restaurants, on the contrary, are characterized by a chic interior and a great variety in menu. Guests can sit there for a long time. So fast-casual is the middle between fast food and restaurant. Our menu is more varied than in fast food, and the quality of the products is higher, interesting interior, but not as rich as in the restaurant. The average bill remains as affordable as possible. Today, fast-casual is the most promising format. Even McDonald's is switching to it now.

''Tatar cuisine has ceased to invent…''

According to experts, in 2018 the fastest growing segment was fast food. This is especially true in the regions. Traditional restaurants are dying out. What do you think the reason is?

The first reason is affordable cost of meals. The country is going through a certain period, people are saving money. The second reason is the high speed of service. We live in a frenzied rhythm, so formats that help to save time are popular.

Tatar cuisine has ceased to invent. We live in a part of the older developments. If this continues, we can stay behind. So we took on the challenge to develop the format of Kystyby

In your opinion, is it a habit to eat out in Tatarstan?

The culture of food gradually comes to us. But I noticed a trend that in a big city people eat more outside the house than in a small one. In Kazan, for example, it is becoming popular. In Nizhnekamsk, where I come from, the culture of food has not yet reached. In a small town, it is more convenient for people to quickly go home to eat there. In a large one — it is easier to stop at a restaurant to not waste time. Because time is money.

There is another nuance: the warmer climate is, the more food culture is developed. In good weather, people walk a lot, they have a cheerful mood. In cold climates, this culture is weaker. Recently I have visited Makhachkala. Here locals eat a lot more than we do. I often visit Turkey. There almost all year round all the cafes are packed with locals.

''Germans used Tatar ideas and created hamburger''

You say that the burger was invented by the Tatars. What makes you think that?

I'll tell you a story. One German merchant travelled to Asia in 1800 and noticed that nomadic Tatars kept meat under horses' saddles to soften it. So it gets pounded and becomes tastier. The German merchant returned to Hamburg and used the Tatar experience, calling it a hamburger. Then one of the German immigrants brought the recipe to the USA. So in famous American networks there appeared Tatar ideas.

Kystyby is the main focus of the institution. Why them, because the Tatar cuisine has so many different pastries?

Fast food should have a key product. Every nation has its own. I have long thought what most traditional dish the Tatars have. The first thing that came to mind — triangle (ochpochmak). But when developing the concept, we faced a strong objection. Burgers are perceived as a second dish, pizza too. But Tatar triangle is a pastry, it did not fit the requirements and technologies.

Then childhood memories helped me. In school years, I used to go to the village in the Aktanyshsky district for hay. There were days when herds grazed. Usually, the grandmother brought for lunch a whole bunch of kystyby. And it etched deeply into my memories that kystyby is a hearty dish, fast, convenient, which is likely to supersede the second dish. My mother loved kystyby to fry in a skillet until brown. So the idea came to take this dish as the basis of the concept.

A fast food product usually consists of three ingredients. It is dough, sauce and main filling. Kystyby perfectly fits this requirement. Then I found the technologists, and together we came up with about 20 different fillings. At first, they said to me, ''Azat, it's impossible.'' But I got up behind the stove and showed them how to do. But I have no cook education. I just believed in the idea.

It etched deeply into my memories that kystyby is a hearty dish, fast, convenient, which is likely to supersede the second dish. My mother loved kystyby to fry in a skillet until brown. So the idea came to take this dish as the basis of the concept

''People prefer halal because the quality is higher''

Kystyby is a halal place. Halal business is quite a complicated business. What are its problems and specifics?

Previously, it was believed that opening a restaurant without alcohol is unprofitable. But time is changing, people are now focused on a healthy lifestyle. Non-alcoholic gatherings are becoming more popular. Therefore, today catering without alcohol can also give a good income.

In halal business, all raw materials must be certified. It's not a problem, just a task. We monitor each vendor and ask to adhere to the standards and norms of halal. In addition, our technologists and cooks undergo special training.

How difficult is it to get a halal certificate?

To get a certificate, you need to organize two stages. First, to build the right technological chain, choose suppliers who work with halal raw materials. Second, to support all this legally, with certification.

In your opinion, Tatarstan is more developed in terms of halal business development in comparison with other regions?

Tatarstan together with Dagestan and Chechnya is one of the regions where the halal industry is highly developed. In the South, unlike us, almost everything is halal. Non-halal products there is an exception.

Halal is quite a popular trend. Sometimes there is a feeling that wherever you look — everywhere halal. Why is it so popular now?

To call oneself halal, one must abide by heightened norms and standards. People prefer such products not only for religious reasons, but simply because the quality of the products there is higher. Therefore, halal in a trend.

Previously, it was believed that opening a restaurant without alcohol is unprofitable. But time is changing, people are now focused on a healthy lifestyle. Non-alcoholic gatherings are becoming more popular. Therefore, today catering without alcohol can also give a good income

''We aim to cover the CIS and Europe in 5 years''

You adhere to the canons of religion. What about the staff? Do you employ only Muslims or religion does not matter?

We have a big team, people of different ethnicities work there. The main rule is that a person should be moral and productive. We feed people, after all.

You are quite active in social networks. What role do you assign to promotion in the network? What other tools do you use?

As for the accounts of institutions, we use targeting in social networks and work with media persons. Plus, I actively maintain a personal account, develop a personal brand. The business that has face works more effectively, it is trusted more. Social networks also help to attract new employees and partners to the team.

The effect of social networks was especially felt during the opening of a place in Naberezhnye Chelny. We were so strongly advertised that just have not coped with flow of visitors on the first day. We brought friends from Kazan to share the solemn moment, but in the end they helped us to serve visitors all day.

My wife is responsible for the children in the family, and at work she interacts with the team. Lena's intuition works well, she can tell in advance whether a person will fit in or not. I try to listen to her

How do you plan to develop the network of Kystyby next?

This year we plan to bring the total number of institutions to 10. This is a crazy task. Every 2 months we will need to open a new restaurant. In the next 2 years, we plan to enter the federal level and open in the main cities of Russia, within 5 years we want to enter the CIS and Europe. Kystyby should become a global network. So that Italians sat in our places and instead of pizza ate Tatar kystyby.

As for internal plans, we plan to speed up the service to 2 minutes. Now we are purchasing special ovens for 1,5 million rubles, where the speed of cooking meat takes only 1,5 minutes. We also purchased professional microwave ovens for 90,000 rubles. Thanks to them, we have halved the time of service.
By Alina Gubaydulina. Photo: Rinat Nazmetdinov
Tatarstan