Written by Vandara Sin
“As an entrepreneur, your job is not alone making profit, but be a role model for your customers in making the impact.” – Soklim Srun
Meet Soklim, founder of Eleven One Kitchen, one of the rare restaurant in town that offers us the good quality food with a good service plus the encouragement for us to care about environment through the value of the restaurant.
Soklim opened Eleven One Kitchen in 2014. The motivation behind this was related to the experience that she had when she was working at a restaurant. During that time, she was introduced to the sugar can box packaging and environmental care that helped to draw her attention to see the over-consumption problem of plastic in Cambodia. Besides, she also learned about the importance of other factors that can help to grow a successful restaurant which is the taste and hygiene of the food and the quality of the service.
She often found problems and difficulties when she wanted to eat outside at local restaurants or food stores. There were the absence of the quality and hygiene of the food and environment, the reluctant of the service and customer care, and the massive of plastic-use in this sector which is harmful to not only the customer but also the society and the planet as a whole. She then felt the need to act on it, “It is time for me to create my own business now!”- Soklim.
By the support of her husband and family and the experience she had with her work at the mentioned restaurant for eleven years, she opened her first Eleven One Kitchen in 2014 with the concept of providing hygienic, tasty, and healthy food, good service and environmental contribution.
In term of environmental contribution, Eleven One Kitchen, first, started with the use of sugar can box that she has known from her previous job. That is when she got much positive attention from foreign customers because they did not expect to see any local restaurants in Cambodia that had this kind of social contribution mindset and everyone started to ask her why and how.
This brought her to connect with other like-minded people and communities who have or introduce her to available alternative products such as packaging bag made of plant, bamboo straw and so on that can be used in her restaurant. After two years of opening the restaurant along with the passion in helping to solve this problem in Cambodia, Soklim and Eleven One Kitchen team started to see the importance of their contribution and determined to keep continuing and improving their action toward social and environmental contribution especially stressing on the plastic problem.
Now, there are two branches of Eleven One Kitchen opened in Phnom Penh with a lot of support from local and international customers because of the uniqueness and core values that offer such as tasty, hygienic and healthy food, good service and environment, and social contribution mindset. In addition, the restaurant uses the organic supply to provide quality food for the customers while supporting local farmers and businesses as well.
To know how eco-friendly her restaurants are, Soklim says, “It is from each member of the team to customers and suppliers of Eleven One Kitchen. We all are doing our part of the job in trying to reduce the plastic as much as we can.” However, there are always difficulties. In the beginning, some of her staffs did not see or care much about the value of Eleven One Kitchen and usually brought food covered with plastic inside which affected the image of the restaurant. Later on, she found a way to help them see the problem by inviting experts from Plastic Free SEA to train them about the disadvantages of plastic and the other professional training that focuses on the importance of the hygiene and service. Now every one of her team is fully aware and take action on it.
There used to be many difficulties with encouraging the suppliers to stop bringing the supply with plastic as well. However, Soklim came up with an idea to bring her own reusable bags and offer alternative sustainable packages when buying products from her suppliers. This is one of the ways to explain to suppliers her restaurant’s value.
From this practice, Eleven One Kitchen has reduced a lot of plastic waste more than expected. “By now, we can say 90-95 percent of everything in Eleven One Kitchen is Plastic Free,” said Soklim. By that practice, not only her staffs and suppliers but also the customers that are contributing to environmental protection.
Soklim inspired us and entrepreneurs who want to create a successful business in the food and beverage sector or any sectors that “Ethical Mindset” is really important in getting the support and loyalty from the customer. Money is not the thing we should aim for from our customers. We should focus on creating values and quality in our product or service and the impact that we can offer to them and society. As an entrepreneur, you should be the role model for your customer in making the impact as well.
In the future, Soklim wants to see more business that is impactful for Cambodia society. Especially, she wants to open Eleven One Kitchen all across Phnom Penh and the whole country with the greater impact she can offer.
Support Soklim Srun and her Eleven One Kitchen team here.