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Vaiteliški cuisine started with zeppelins

Author’s photo: businessmen A. and R. Noreikos value their team and clients, whose good words inspire and do not allow them to stand still.

“For a business to be successful, you have to give it your all.” You have to feel what a person needs in order for him to buy your product or service”, asserted Aušra Noreikienė, who opened a grocery store in the “Vaitelei” gardening community together with her husband Ričardus a few years ago.
Now this place, where you can buy all the necessary food products and various confectionery products, is known not only by locals and those passing by on the Kretinga-Gargžda road. The car is tempted to stop by the clearly visible inscription “Zepelinai” from the road, because of which, it turns out, some people go to great lengths to bring zeppelins cooked by the people of Vaiteli to their guests.
Everything from the ground up
12 years ago, A. and R. Noreikas, who settled in the “Vaiteili” gardeners’ community, started their business by opening a shop in their home. Later, after buying and fixing the abandoned plot, in 2016 set up a roadside grocery store. “The beginning was difficult, during the winter there was complete stagnation in the gardens”, R. Noreika, head of Ričardo prekyba UAB, shared his memories of the beginning of the business. In the summer, the “Vaiteiliu” gardening community is full of people, so the grocery store was and is necessary for them. Since many gardeners are building houses, the builders who came to the store asked Ričard and Aušra if they could also offer warm food, such as dumplings and soup. So the need for businessmen dictated what they could do in the rest of the building. Therefore, the kitchen has been operating for 6 years, where zeppelins, soups, fried meatballs, steaks and other meat dishes are cooked.
Before starting a new business, to understand the needs of future customers, entrepreneurs analyzed what people usually eat for lunch. In a flourishing cafe in one Klaipėda shopping center, he noticed that zeppelins and shaltibaršči are the favorites. “At first we thought that we would cook zeppelin together, because we cook at home too. In the evenings, we used to shave 5-8 buckets of potatoes in front of the TV. After a month, we realized that we wouldn’t be able to do it alone – we hired the first employee”, said Aušra and Ričard. Now, up to 14 employees work in Vaiteiliu’s kitchen-shop in the summer, and in the winter it is reduced to 10. The menu is published on Facebook every day, from which zeppelins and cold borschts never disappear.
Customers want – fast!
The main desire of customers is to have a quick meal or take away food. “Requests are like in a fast food restaurant,” smiled Ričardas, who had also been meeting the needs of Gargžda diners throughout the winter – delivering lunch to Gargžda establishments according to orders. “We are struggling to keep our employees during the winter, but in the spring, when gardeners flock to the gardens, we are physically unable to transport food,” A. Noreikienė explained the reason for stopping the popular service. If the possibilities allow, the Vaiteilis kitchen machine in an exclusive color will appear again in Gargždaii in winter.
Entrepreneurs have noticed that those who order food want to receive it very quickly. “Sometimes, they call to order food and tell us to put it in the boxes, because they will come to pick it up soon. 10-15 minutes pass and they don’t come, and we are nervous that the food will get cold and the customer will be unhappy. I evaluate our food from the buyer’s point of view,” said Aušra, who calls herself a whimsical shopper. Another observation confirms that people are in a hurry: when they hear that the pot of zeppelin is finishing cooking and they will have to wait five minutes, they say they don’t have that much time. You can also eat there in a cozy room, and in the summer – in the gazebo.
The needs of customers are different: people from Gargždi also order lighter food – chicken dishes, porridges, salads, casseroles, while those who buy locally want to eat farm-style – pork steaks, zeppelins, potato plates. For those who want dessert, the residents of Vaiteli offer warm donuts, which they cook every morning.

R. Noreika, manager of Ričardo prekyba UAB, says that their car, which transports food according to orders, is known not only in Vaitelei because of its distinctive color.

Striving for quality
UAB “Ričardo prekyba” works with a strong team, which Aušra and Ričardas value very much. “Over time, some people fell away. As we grew, new employees came. One cook has been commuting from Rietava for five years, some from Gargžda, local people are also employed. Some of our employees are 30-40 years old, others are from 50 years old. We combine the energy of juniors and the experience of seniors. In the collective, everyone gets along and works with a smile,” the businessmen said.
What spoils the mood for A. and R. Noreikom? “One bad review is already a tragedy for me,” answered Aušra. Therefore, when the potatoes deteriorate in the spring, when they no longer receive from the farmer the variety that is most suitable for zeppelins, they have received angry comments, supposedly reducing the portions. And how to explain to the customer that it does not reduce, but the zeppelins just fall into the water, it looks as if they have shrunk. It hurts when you hear that they don’t make zeppelins, but cook them frozen. The eyes of such customers widen when they learn that the entire production process takes place right here. There is a separate room where the potatoes are shaved, grated, and the dough is made, and for the filling, instead of purchased mincemeat, the meat is ground right here. “I’m a picky eater because I have a sensitive stomach, so we try to cook in a way that’s tasty and with as many natural products as possible,” explained Aušra, a teacher who has worked for many years and has diplomas in geography, pre-school and pre-school education, and elementary education pedagogue. When asked if she regrets turning to business from school, she admitted that she had self-confidence while working as a teacher, and that confidence is still lacking in business.
Entrepreneurs do not complain that they themselves work seven days a week and do not count working hours. “The only refreshment is travel, concerts, theater. We are traveling alone because there is no way we can coordinate our short respite “getaways” with any travel agency. We are interested in history, art, architecture, nature, but by no means lying by the pool. Since I worked as a geography teacher, I made the routes myself,” Aušra admitted. Business requires constant ideas and investment. A. and R. Noreikos invest a lot in inventory and premises. “We both consult on all issues, sometimes we argue loudly before we make a decision. From the outside, it may appear that we are arguing. Ideas about what and how to do come as if from above,” Aušra smiled.

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– 2024-04-25 11:08:11

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