What changes has the Pandemic brought to the Restaurant biz?
The pandemic has made us relook at the business model by way of size, structure, venue and pricing. As we are re-open, we are looking at the bottom line very strongly, keeping in mind that there will be lot of stress on the compliance in the future. So, where ever we are opening, we are working on a new business model, so that in case we face such kind of situations in the future we would be able to settle in better. Further to this in the last six months the stress on the bottom line can also be recovered in quick succession.
What are some of the changes happening at Speciality?
Some of the points that we have factored in our model is the size of the restaurant, the liability of rent, the staff cost and infrastructure costs have been relooked at with the help of the landowners and industry experts. Also, we are working on re designing the kitchen and the backend operations so that we can minimize our personal costs.
We see more and more Restaurant brands are entering into the cloud kitchen biz. Why so?
The pandemic has created a huge opportunity for deliveries & take-away(s). Since, people were stuck at home preparing food on a daily basis without any house help (which we are so used to), they started ordering from various restaurants as soon as the Government permitted restaurants to operate via a delivery and take-away model. We find that this trend will continue as it has now become the ‘new normal’ or would say has given birth to an ‘ordering out culture’. The other reason has been the pricing and convenience of ordering food at home is incomparable to go to a restaurant or find people to party in the first place.
Moreover, with the malls and multiplexes being shut, the younger generations have all got hooked to the OTT platforms and with this model ordering has become a child’s play for them. In other words, the delivery and take-away has now become a growing marketing for sure. Going forward we also feel that the young generation will not bother too much going to do their daily grocery shopping or even be averse to cooking in the future. Also, house help may slowly become low and hence expensive. They would also be looking for variety in their ordering options; hence having multiple brands or rather cuisines is a must keeping in mind the portion size and the menu.
You also ventured into it and plan to open a number of cloud kitchen brands. How much money have you invested?
The chain plans to set up 26 cloud kitchens across the country. While 14 have been commissioned, most of which are at existing captive restaurants, Speciality plans to add a dozen more independent plug-and-play kitchen formats where it does not have a presence, within 6-12 months. With very low capex, this format would also be cost efficient requiring less manpower, centralised raw material purchase, and reduced fuel consumption.
Do you think this is going to be the future of dining in India and in the world in general?
Well, I would not put forth a generalized statement. Like, I said the trends show that the Cloud/Delivery Kitchen model is going to be a strong contender in such times. It is also going to take a bigger chunk of the F&B business and I find no rhyme or reason as to why it should not grow and sustain itself in the long term.