Neotia Group has been in hospitality business for really long time but they have really started focusing on this sector only in last four-five years. “Many years ago when I was just out of college and was involved in real-estate development and was building small office buildings in Kolkata. At that time due to some reason I was visiting London with my father who was there on a business and has to meet a business associate at a business club in London and I also accompanied him there. I was quite impressed to see the infrastructure and when I came back to Kolkata I was thinking the office buildings that I was making could I dedicate a space of around 3000 sqft where I could do a business club,” shares Harshvardhan Neotia, Chairman, Neotia Group that runs restaurants like Sonartori, Afraa and Global Restaurant chain UNO Chicago Bar & Grill in India.
It was back in mid 1980s when he thought to open a similar kind of concept in the country. But it didn’t work for years. It was then he asked his friends to check why it was not working, the answer was it was run by a Marwari boy who himself is a vegetarian and a teetotaler and how would he understand gourmet-non vegetarian cuisine and a good well-stocked bar, is a commerce graduate and is doing it out of fad as he comes from industrial background. “The fact was it was not a fad and I deeply believed in it and therefore I tried to redeem it by ensuring that over the next few years food and the service and the experience the customer got was good and gradually the word spreads,” smiles Neotia who was conferred the Padmashri in the year 1999 for his outstanding initiative in the field of social housing. “But with god’s grace and our initial patrons the idea got clicked and we entered into the hospitality business,” he adds. It was in 2012-13 that they again started working on restaurant and hospitality business. Here are top key takeaways at his speech at 9th Indian Restaurant Congress:
It is All about Persistent and Consistency: As we all know that restaurant industry has low entry barrier and with a few crores of rupees you can get started. But what we have learnt is that it is persistent and consistency that is hallmark of its success. You need to be consistent in whatever you serve.
Convenience v/s Experience: When you divide food business into two parts there are two types of segment- convenient based food and experience based food. Experience based food is enjoyed when you do outing occasionally basically to have good time at social interests place where it is heavy on experience. Whereas the convenience based are the shop next door where you grab a bite or this very new emerging trend of the dark kitchen/ cloud kitchen which is essentially providing you home-cooked or home-style food to meet your requirements of nutrition.
Sustainability is Driving the Biz: The young generations are very mindful of its social responsibilities. “When I speak to my children they often ask me about sustainable practices a lot more than I think it naturally occurs to me or people in my generation,” says Neotia who is very proud restaurants that are serving, healthy, fresh food using sustainable practices is a big hit and is a wonderful way to serve that part of our society.