The PTT Family of lifestyle outlets all started with Potato Head in Pacific Place mall. Opened in 2009 by founders Chief Executive Ronald Akili, 32, and Creative Director Jason Gunawan, 33, it broke many taboos. For one, the name was quirky and not pretentious. It had a large outdoor seating area, when most said al fresco was a no-no. It featured innovative cocktails, when most said Jakartans drank only the tried-and-true. “Everything we do is quite playful in a way,” says Ronald. “Every project we do we really put our soul into it and
I think that’s what differentiates our projects. Although all of our projects are different, I think everyone still feels that same soul. Our concepts are not copied from other venues, it comes from within us.”
The interior design was also striking—to be sure, many venues have fancy decors, but the duo went all out. The industrial-inspired space was designed by renowned architect Andra Matin, and used Dutch-colonial shutters sourced from across the archipelago. Artist Eko Nugroho painted the wall murals and farm tractor seats became the bar stools. Ronald’s wife, Sandra Budiman, a Cordon Bleu-trained chef, put together the menu.
An almost instant success, the duo has gone from one outlet to many, now under the formal name of PT Pangan Talenta Family. The group now counts the original Potato Head; the Potato Head Beach Club Bali; opulent steakhouse Potato Head Garage; burger bar Three Buns and Potato Head Folk in Singapore. Three Potato Head hotels in Bali are on the way as well as a second Bali beach club in Canggu. While the pair doesn’t like to talk figures, Forbes Indonesia estimates that the PTT Family has gross annual revenues of at least $30 million, and a profit margin that could easily hit double digits.
The Potato Head Beach Club is what really launched PTT into the big leagues after it opened in 2010. The massive open-air 3,500 person capacity space is the most profitable venue of the group, with its almost nonstop beach parties, coupled with special events and performances by the likes of John Legend and Snoop Dogg.
The runaway success of the beach club caught the duo by surprise. “Our Bali venue is such a big operation to handle,” says Ronald. “We didn’t have any experience in running hospitality before but we really liked the business so when we opened the beach club it was a big learning curve for us. Now we are able to deliver concepts easier and we’ve learned the industry.”