Though, Maharashtrian cuisine is known for its distinctive attributes, but its shares a lot with the wider Indian cuisine. There are many diners who appreciate the raw traditional food because of its unique taste and presentation. With a vision of offering the traditional Marathi cuisines to the diners, Yogesh Magar conceptualised Wah Marathi.
In conversation with Restaurant India, Yogesh Magar, Director, Wah Marathi, discusses about challenges and responses for the brand.
Talk to us about Wah Marathi and the journey so far?
It all started with offering authentic Maharashtrian food to the guests blended with contemporary ambiance with stellar customer service. This was aimed at appealing not only the indigenous people, but non-natives as well. The notion of proposing native dishes to Maharashtrian community was a big task. We wanted to break away the conventional way of serving Thalis and present the same in a fine dining format. I had always felt the vacuum for eateries. Food being my passion and a core Maharashtrian by birth, I wanted to offer pure and fresh food to the masses, belonging to our own culture away from the rush of fast-foods.
Maharastrian food is so diverse and, much of it remains unexplored. People need to know that Maharashtrian food is beyond vadapaav. We conducted extensive research by visiting distant villages of Maharahstra to explore new dishes and recipes. Our team members learnt so many traditional recipes from elderly people, which has actually added a flavour to our menu and helped us in creating unique flavours.
We believe that learning is constant and we continuously strive to evolve our offerings on the table.
Share with us the initial challenges you faced while rooting the business into the market?
The Menu: Designing the menu was the most challenging part. We experimented almost 400 dishes, and it took us at least 4 months to filter them. The challenges were — reducing operational cost, offering better prices and maintaining authentic flavours. All this was to be catered without compromising on quality.
Manpower: While exploring the regional cuisine, the major challenge remains in getting the right manpower. The staff involved in preparation of regional cuisine needs to relate with the offering. We struck the ball right on this, to hit a home run.
Acceptance: Pune is a choppy market. One needs to do thorough research before putting anything on the platter. Offering Marathi food to the locals in fine dining concept was indeed an uphill task, but we succeeded eventually.
Unique Selling Point: Offering Maharashtrian food on à la carte, a model, which was well received by our patrons.
Marketing; Established in the vicinity of one of the biggest IT hubs, Magarpatta Cyber City, Pune, the challenge was to attract not only the locals, but at the same time, the non-Maharashtrians as well, who resided in and around the IT city.
How has been the consumer response so far?
The response has been overwhelming so far, and our fan following has been increasing by the day. People sometimes get nostalgic about the whole experience. They relate it to the home-cooked foods by their mothers and grandmothers. Apart from our guests we have been getting requests to set up more of these restaurants in other cities and abroad as well.
The industry has seen a growing interest from private equity to venture capital investors. How do you see the trend in the years to come?
Being in the food and restaurant industry for the last 13 years, we have seen trends changing over the period of time. We have seen a lot of new entrants, including MNC’s venturing into this business. This is a welcoming change, and this affirms that the market has huge potential with several areas to be explored. Restaurant & food industry is a game of patience and persistence. One has to believe in his offering to be able to convince the masses.
How do you plan to compete with the new-age food chains and licensed stand alone players?
It may sound hard to believe, we do not consider us as a part of the rat race. One has to stand out from the crowd and work hard to remain in the completion and to carve a slice out of this large pie. To hit the box office a movie should have a very strong content, story line and dedicated actors. We, at Magarpatta clubs & resorts, follow the same path to make our brand ‘Wah Marathi’ a great success.
What according to you are 4 important growth drivers in this industry?
The most important growth drivers in the industry are:
1. Internationalisation / globalisation.
2. Integration opportunities.
How has been the response towards other assets of Magar Hospitality?
Response to all our assets including Hotel Cocoon- 118 keys all suite hotel, Deccan Harvest: 230 covers, Multi cuisine fining dining restaurant & Lounge and Mega Meals: corporate catering unit with a capacity of producing thirty thousand meals in a day, has been overwhelming. All these brands have evolved over the period of time and have been contributing significantly towards the total earnings of the company.
How has technology helped you pivot your business in the right direction?
We strongly believe that technology in F & B industry will play a major role towards a better future of our businesses. We have been a technology driven company equipped with strong ERP systems for our back office, material management and front of the house operations. Technology will play a key role for better future prediction as the data gathered over the period of last 10 years will lay the foundation stone of a rewarding future.
Where do you see the future of the industry 3-5 years down the line?
We are very optimistic about the future and wish to play our part in the overall growth and sustenance.
Share with us your future expansion plans? How much revenue do you expect by the end of FY16?
Enriched with rich industry experience of more than a decade, Wah Marathi has become a tried and tested brand within a short span of three years. Besides developing our reach in other parts of the country, we have plans to expand within Maharashtra as well. Our kitty will include the Franchised as well as company-owned outlets. As mentioned earlier, we have been getting enquires for franchise models, but will be working cautiously to make every unit, be it franchised or otherwise, a sustainable and successful model.