Dessert bar Cowch launches franchise

By Sarah Stowe | 12 Apr 2019 View comments

Dessert bar Cowch is a solution to the ‘dessert and coffee or cocktails?’ question. When Arif Memis and his wife cooked a meal at home they would head out afterwards: Arif wanted to relax in a bar, his wife preferred to unwind with a coffee and dessert.

“There wasn’t a place for us to go with dim lights, loud music, cocktails, coffee and dessert,” says Memis. So they created one.

They set up the first Cowch Dessert Cocktail Bar on Southbank’s Grey Street in Brisbane.

It took time to establish the business as it was set a block away from the busiest precinct but as other restaurants opened nearby and the brand evolved it’s achieved 10-12 per cent growth.

Now the brand is ready to franchise.

The Cowch experience

Cowch caters for many different customer groups although 83 per cent are women.

Memis says the key to the business is that the dessert bar provides a touchpoint for clients multiple times.

Larger groups are proving a highly popular income stream, from baby showers to kids parties to hens parties.

“When big groups come, as soon as the food comes out the phones are out. Then you don’;t see them for an hour. That’s what we built this for – like a home with a big dining table, couches out the front, an open kitchen, a high bar, ottomans.

“You can choose your own music.”

Memis says it’s about the experience, not just the food and drink. So partygoers can step behind the bar and learn to make cocktails, kids dish up their own ice creams and add toppings.

The Cowch founder remembers the joy of the activity-based cafes he used to visit as a child. “I used to love plaster painting. We’ve replicated this concept but as a smoothie or ice cream. And mums can sit back and have a cheeky cocktail.”

There is diversity across the customer profile, with elderly couples, young families and even early morning business executives enjoying the ambience.

“In the mornings, Flight Centre global HQ people walk past other stores to come to us for meetings,” says Memis.

The Southbank store serves coffee (custom made with a proprietary blend) and breakfast (scrambled eggs with dukkah and chilli oil, fairy bread french toast) with a shift in customer

demographics – 80 per cent are male.

The second store at Gold Coast’s Pacific Fair has been open nearly three years; coming up next is a venue at Chermside’s dining precinct. All are company stores.

Cowch is franchising

So Memis is ready to bring in franchisees, individuals with passion, desire and determination.

Hospitality experience not essential but enjoying putting a smile on people’s faces is mandatory.

Memis looked to Soul Origin as an industry leader and has worked on emulating their practices. Where the sandwich, salad and coffee chain provides franchisees with a four-week training program, Memis has upped the training at Cowch to six weeks.

This breaks down to one week in the books, two weeks in a store, a week’s debrief, and two more weeks in-store training with their staff.

Continual learning is crucial, he says.

“My staff get external training once a month. That is paramount to the business.”

It will costs at least $580,000 to buy a Cowch franchise outlet. Cost is determined in part by size and stores are getting bigger, Memis says.

“If there’s a place not in metro we could look at smaller footprint.”

Current stores are 250sqm but the Chermside outlet will have a 400sqm footprint.

“If I can cater for bigger parties that’s where I’ll make more money. One of the key factors is we’re not about selling the product, it’s about the experience. A lot of businesses say it but they don’t live it.

“I don’t think we’re competing with desserts. We’re doing it differently. We do parties. Customers remember the fun times.”

Find out more about Cowch Dessert Cocktail Bar opportunities or check out the dessert sector.