In the last 4-5 years, dessert as a business has grown in India. From local pastry shops turning into patisserie to rise of donut and waffle chain, we have seen it all. Neehar Bisabathini, a Hyderabad based restaurateur thought of building it big with his churros business. “Now, how do you start something when you are 19 years old, have nothing and a million doubts in mind? Well you start from the absolute bottom, so that’s what we did. We started by selling them on the street, in-front of many schools and colleges,” remembers Neehar who after six months of serving, collecting feedbacks has got the courage and decided to start his own store with the mission of serving everyone with something savoury, sweet and a seat and today he runs 4 cafes serving best of the desserts, coffees and global cuisine at his bistro. Excerpts from the interview:
How exciting was it all?
That tiny store just blew up, we were the talk of the town in no time, it was breaking records every single week and we were serving thousands. The store was always lively, incredibly chaotic and the best and worst part was people had to always wait for a seat. It was a sight of growth, but the picture was painful to see people stand and wait, which wasn’t our mission of “serving with a seat”. So we went for hunting and took an incredible place which was 10 times bigger than the last one thinking this would help. And Guess what, that blew up as well! There was waiting and standing all over again and we started scratching our heads. So we firmly decided to expand the brand. It was important for us at Churrolto to expand the brand for 2 main reasons, our mission statement that kept us going forward and that we had to showcase our craft, culture and creativity to the world. We started researching big established brands and realised they all had one thing in common, they all had a fully equipped central kitchen for operations and supply. So, we started searching for our centralised kitchen and we found one big enough to justify our next 10 years. We spent all our earnings from the past 5 years in the central kitchen and named it “Churrolto Central”. Churrolto central can supply to 35 different outlets all around south India, has place for more than 200 people to work and invent and which will help us to serve more than 50 million people yearly.
What’s the way forward?
Going forward churrolto’s expansion goals are product expansion to commercialise churros with a unique concept as big as doughnuts, increase the family with world class people to achieve world class expansion and give special experiences to millions of people. We are also planning to open 25 outlets in next 2-3 years.
Any plan raising funds?
We are in talks with few of the investors and are planning to raise Rs 25cr to expand and grow our brand.
How have you designed the menu? What’s the average ticket size?
There was a new dessert every day, a special menu every week and total menu revamp every quarter. People loved the freshness, the unpredictability and always keeping them on their toes. This helped us create over 800 recipes and a lot of happy hearts giving us an average ticket size of Rs 1600-1800.
The restaurant industry is not about giving great food at the start, it starts with:
1. A real estate game 2. A marketing game 3. A competition game 4. Then at last, the good food game.
What’s your USP?
The brand runs with strong 22 values, the first one being “treat the customer the same way if your mother was sitting at the table”. We serve 5 star food but at the speed of fast food. Churrolto believes it’s a crime to make a customer wait. Our patisserie goals are to be sugar neutral eliminating all sugars completely and use alternatives like stevia, erythritol and monk fruit. Our Churros are our hero, every person walking inside churrolto comes for these great Spanish cinnamon-y sticks and lastly Technology is a big part of Churrolto’s journey.