“I started off 16 years ago, and today I have 44 restaurants in 11 cities across India,” says Amlani, who owns country's first completely indigenous and eclectic café chain Mocha, the unconventional Smoke House Deli and Social, a ground breaking space that has revolutionised co-working spaces in India. Here are the excerpts from the interview:
Share us your opinion on the F&B Industry today?
It is a very exciting space to be in. F&B as an industry is just beginning to take off. Everybody in the restaurant industry is in the right place especially the people who have years of experience because they are aware of the challenges and are better equipped to face the future. There is a steep learning curve in the restaurant business, as 90% restaurants don’t survive more than 10 years. Nonetheless, it is a rewarding time to be in the industry now.
When you started, what initially triggered you to run this business? Was it Food or Beverages?
It was purely entertainment. I got into this business from an entertainment perspective, wanting to create places where people thought couldn’t be entertained. My idea was to build a space around human conversations. It was not about the food or the drink. Our first outlet was called Mocha- Coffees & Conversations. Creating a Space which was conducive for conversation was my triggering point to be in this business.
With such fine concepts like Mocha, Smoke House Deli & Social, what was the idea that led to the birth of such landmarks?
Earlier, there was a thought that if you are a brand, you need to provide the exact experience. Nowadays, people get tired of monotony, and always in the search of something new. With each Mocha & Social, we try to explore a new dimension which is unexpected in terms of design language that sets the tone for a theme. We are more into the language of the design rather than the theme.
With a lot of developments happening in the industry, where are we still lagging behind?
There are times when people try to exaggerate and take things too easily. There is no substitute for focus and hard work. Your brand should deliver what it says on the box. When you go out for a particular experience, you shouldn’t be given more than what you want or vice versa. There is no room for anything which is lower than the top 10 in each category.
Do trends fascinate your business?
I have always tried to stay away from trends. My definition for trend means it will go and come. I have followed people and tried to understand what they want. Likewise, figuring out what people want is not trend forecasting, it is rather demand and supply.
Tell us about your future prospects?
I plan not to plan for more than 3 weeks. Everything is very dynamic and evolving. We are not operating in a vacuum. You are responding to the environment and the environment is just changing all the time. You have to make your plan bend down to the universe. So, as I say, if you have a plan longer than 3 weeks, chances of not working out are more.
With Technology taking an upper hand in this industry, where do you see the F&B Industry heading?
I definitely see the consumption pattern changing in the near future. Eating more meals out of home will increase while cooking at home will be a tedious task. Right from buying vegetables to cutting them, people will prefer ordering or eating out. Evolution is soon to catch up in India.