It’s all about experience at restaurant these days. What according to you is pushing this trend?
The talent that exists in India is second to none. I think we have the most talented chefs, restaurant owners and we have seen a lot of innovations happening in Indian food industry. We are now catering to a very young audience as 60% of 1.4 billion people of India are under the age of 35. These are the millennial, people who are predominantly earning a lot of money and spending it. So, for the restaurant industry this is the target market. Millennial are very different animals from the general audiences. They are extremely free, waiting for social experiences and are interested in something new, fresh every day. They love socialising. So, for them the restaurants in general are the perfect avenue. They are not interested in ownerships, they don’t want to have an apartment, and they are okay renting it. They don’t want to own a car as they are okay Ubering it but they are definitely wanting to have a great social experiences 2-3 times a week which opens up a huge possibility for restaurant industry. By catering to an overall holistic experience, providing a fresh experience each day to your customers you are going to survive and thrive.
We see that lots of happening is there in the industry but it’s very disheartening to see the legal hurdles. What’s your view?
We are target pointed on our back and somebody somewhere doesn’t like the restaurant industry. I think the scene has now starting to get a new direction with Supreme Court ruling that within the city limits the liquor ban doesn’t apply is a big move. Things like ease of licensing and Mumbai perhaps becoming 24/7 city is all the positive drive. But the past 10 months have been a complete turmoil. We are a very important industry but we somehow don’t get that credit or attention or respect that we deserve. Restaurant industry is 40 times larger than Bollywood and is still primary form of entertainment in the country. It forms 2% of the GDP and I think we are a big economy and we are the second largest provider of employment in the country after agriculture. So, the government need to realise that instead of considering us as an ancillary business or something which doesn’t deserve the attention is very counterproductive. The whole world respect and love restaurant industry but somehow the atmosphere in India is that the restaurant industry is considered evil. The government landscape need to be changed- licensing needs to be made easier, laws like liquor ban needs to be stopped and rationalised.
How are you creating experiences at your restaurants?
It’s about the overall vibe. The vibe is a very different thing to pin point. I think it’s about figuring out what kind of concept you are building. A fine dining has to have a different vibe from a casual dining or a high energy restaurant for e.g. Our Farzi Cafe’s has a very high energy youthful vibes. We have always loved Indian foods and have been eating it for decades but it was never cool, packaged properly. The youth would go to celebrate Dadaji’s birthday, parent’s anniversary but would never go for a date night to an Indian restaurant. Farzi Cafe changes that by introducing high energy vibe, playfulness to the food, introducing cutting edge elements, music. We somehow created what the customer loved- food that they loved was there and was packaged beautifully. And, now modern Indian food is the biggest buzz, phenomenon that is talking the entire country. More and more restaurants are opening in modern Indian food genre than any other genre clubbed together. My goal was always to put Indian food on the global palate. Indian food is finally reaching where it should be.
What trend we are going to witness moving forward?
I think the primary thing that is going to be imperative in the restaurant industry would be innovation. We are the highest failure industry in the world. It does heavily depend on system. It’s a lifestyle choice. In order to survive restaurants these days you will have to innovate. Without innovation you will not be able to attract millennial and they are the target clientele. A lot of Indian restaurant going overseas is the next big trend. We ourselves are going to be present in 7 different countries by March 2018. Indian food has got the culinary sophistication.