A thing often heard is that the restaurant business is driven by passion and determination more than anything else. For those in the restaurant business, it is important to understand the attitude of the customers, the kind of experience they would like to enjoy, the environment they would feel relaxed in and of course their preferences with regards to cuisine and taste. Here are some pointers to making a restaurant business a success story:
#Do not Talk, Adopt: One common mistake that restaurant owners make is to talk rather than adapting trends and concepts. One finds too much talk about getting local, sustainable and providing fresh seasonal ingredients but most Indian restaurants are far behind their international counterparts when it comes to putting such ideas into practice. In that sense, Mumbai has always been a trendsetter in adopting these changes and there are several restaurant brands that are truly going local and sustainable. “We are trying to use as much as local produce as we can. We are also working with local farmers to source things like natural honey, spices and fruits and vegetables grown without any pesticides,” says celebrity chef Vicky Ratnani who believes that the Indian food market is at a point when both raw ingredients and the final products are very important. It is not just about fine dining and white tablecloth anymore. It is about good experiential food.
#Be A Disruptor, Not a Follower: The restaurant industry has always given wings to fly to anybody who has shown determination and keenness to innovate and thereby disrupt the market. A case in point is Hemant Oberoi who worked for almost four decades as an executive chef and corporate chef at Taj Hotels. It was only after such a long stint in service that this chef turned an independent restaurateur two years ago, an experience that he is enjoying to the hilt. “This business has made me a restaurateur now – something I had never thought about when working with Taj Hotels,” shares Oberoi, who became well-known for starting Zodiac Grill in 1989 at the Taj Hotels as the first fine-dine restaurant in India.
#Making Good Food Accessible, Fun: Contrary to popular belief, India is a very hard market to please any customer when it comes to the restaurant business. The reason is that a majority of Indians are used to freshly cooked food at home, and mostly with that “special mother’s touch”. Therefore, what does it take to make a restaurant business scalable? It is a combination of the food, the experience and the design. “You don’t have to get very serious about good food. Food can be fun and must be readily accessible,” points out Deepinder Batth, COO, Pizza Express, adding that good food till date was available only at five star hotels but then high street and standalone locations disrupted the whole fine dining market by introducing more pedigree food formats in the country.
Reduce the Out-Go, Get Funding Within Sector: The most exciting part for the restaurant industry is that the organised segment, which was 33% last year, is growing at 16% annually and will hit 41% over the next 3-4 years. And, to match the demand, there will be a need to scale up the operations which, of course, will call for greater funding. “This is one industry where we will keep on seeing investment from within the industry. Most of the investments that are done in the restaurant sector these days are happening in formats that are mall-friendly, simply because they cater to the widest possible customer base. And the revenue share would be enough to get the first 10-15 outlets before the chain is efficient enough to attract larger financial commitment,” shares Sriranjan Seshadri, Founder, Last Mile Ventures.