India has the highest percentage of vegetarians in the world but somehow vegetarian food beyond Indian cuisine is considered unappealing for most Indians. It is the opposite in many parts of the developed world. Vegan and vegetarian food has been trending for a long time. Hence, Nitin Dixit wanted to be the agent of this change in the dine-out culture by promoting the associated lifestyle which is considered more sustainable. Therefore, he encouraged building a strong community around the cafe which includes some support for co-working as well. Excerpts from the interview:
You aim at popularizing plant protein. Why there is a sudden trend among customers getting attracted to such concepts?
As mentioned earlier, this trend has been prevailing for a long time in much of the western developed world. In India, there does seem to be a surging interest as of late. Perhaps it has to do with our tendency to be influenced by the West as well as some major celebrities, international and local, promoting vegan food in a major push. There is also a major push from the scientific community for people to adopt a plant-based diet in order to help mitigate climate change.
It is often believed that healthy food is boring. What does your chef do to make it appealing and tasty to address to such finicky customer?
We all work very hard to get our dishes to hit benchmarks related to taste. It is a complicated process but that is part of what creates a unique value proposition for our customers. We aspire to please even ardent non-vegetarians!
How have designed the café?
The design process is headed by our co-founder Mohit Yadav and we work with many architects and designers as we have been active in the design community for over a decade. We are deeply involved in every aspect of the design.
We also see that there is a sudden rise in restaurants adopting sustainable and paper packaging and straws. Why so? How is it helping reach to more mature customers?
These are small measures in a much larger push towards sustainability which we are trying to promote also. Today maturity is not a factor of age necessarily but also exposure. Many of our younger customers are becoming aware and appreciate such initiatives. We need a lot more from the industry in this direction.
Tell us something about your menu. Which is the highest ordered menu?
People have lately fallen for our Ragi Nachos which is a contemporary and indigenous adaptation of the classic nachos. We are inspired by modern vegan/vegetarian California cuisine which itself is influenced by many regions of the world.
What is the average footfall at your café, ticket size?
We generally don't share commercial aspects of our operation but needless to say, we are quite satisfied with our progress.
You recently opened your second café in Gurgaon. What is the expansion plan?
We are opening a third location very shortly in Chattarpur area. Then we would like to strengthen our operations before pursuing further expansion plans.
How do you decide on locations?
We generally tend to look for alternate high street locations which are still mainstream and well located. We also look to access the density of our target demographics in those locations. In the future, we will also be open in some format to corporate parks.