At the sidelines of the launch of three cloud kitchen brands, Rajat Sahni, the co-founder and Chief Operating Officer at Big Bros, talked to Restaurant India about the untapped opportunities in the cloud kitchen space and how the centralised cooking cloud-based model is different from having a single cloud kitchen base
Excerpts from the interview:
What is your opinion about the disruption that cloud kitchens are creating in India?
I feel that we have not yet explored the full potential of cloud kitchens, even in major metro cities. The internet penetration is increasing day by day. Ordering various things online has already become very common. Therefore, there surely will be growth in time to come. The advantage in favour of cloud kitchens is that they provide us convenience and variety. You can sit in one place and explore 5,000 restaurants around you – this is similar to what you can order from Amazon. The cloud kitchen model is here to stay but it has just started and there is a huge market that is still untapped. This model will work for players who are consistent.
I am looking to establish a brand that can be replicated with how KFC or McDonalds are in the cloud kitchen space, where the taste of a McDonalds’ burger in Delhi would be the same as in Mumbai. That is the kind of standardisation that I am aiming for. As and when cloud kitchens are able to attain that level, the model will turn into a huge success. Looking forward, I think you will be able to offer multiple cuisines from cloud kitchens, catering to specific consumer needs as per price, taste and genres, including specific cuisine not otherwise ingenious to India.
FreshMenu, which is thriving in Delhi, doesn’t operate on a centralised cooking model. They have different kitchen outlets. So how is your model different from theirs?
The centralised cooking model requires multiple chefs and setups. However, in our case you invest in one base kitchen but the delivery outlets don’t require much investment. The things which act as major differentiators between what FreshMenu is doing versus what we are doing is are all about investment, staff recruitment and maintaining a particular level. Also, unlike the centralised cooking cloud-based model, there are a lot of difficulties in changing or extending the menu in a model which has multiple kitchen outlets. It requires a lot of staff training and the capability to be consistent.
In the coming years, when your cloud kitchen brands will eventually start earning more, will you open more kitchen outlets?
No, because the concept we have requires reduced skills-set at the outlet level. Therefore, the skills of cooking remain at the base kitchen and there are minimum skills required at the outlet level. For example, when it comes to our packaging we have set it in a manner that leaves minimal possibility for human errors. Right now we have three brands; tomorrow we might have 30 brands. When there are more outlets there are more chances for mistakes.
What is your funding strategy for expansion?
We are open to funding; we are already in talks with a few investors. There is no doubt that we would need external funding to expand. Our expansion would completely depend upon on how well we do here. That will help us decide on our spread and outreach over the next one year, which in turn will dictate our funding needs.
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