The dining scenario has indeed witnessed a sweeping change over the last couple of years. From running after trends to adopting what customer wants, the dining scenario has changed over the time. Started in 2013 Platter Hospitality, a Kolkata based restaurant group has tried their best to keep up with the evolving needs of a more aware customer. With an increase need for an inclusive wholesome experience, as opposed to the earlier demand of great food alone, today dining is more about creating an experience with the cuisine, ambience and the décor. “Eight years back the restaurant scenario in Kolkata revolved only around Park Street which was central Kolkata but with time South Kolkata, North Kolkata and Salt Lake has emerged as strong dining destinations and we have been successful in penetrating in these areas,” stated Shiladitya & Debaditya Chaudhury, Chapter 2 in the city. Read, what they have to say on running a restaurant and expanding amid the pandemic.
Driven by innovation
The belief that running a concept of fine dining restaurant is tough is one that is grounded in reality. A concept restaurant aspires to provide an inclusive, all encompassing experience to their customers. Creating the first outlet always needs a lot of research in terms of choosing the right cuisine, ambience and location; but once a prototype is ready it is easier to replicate the same model. The idea is to not just ensure the food served is great, but also to ensure an ambience that meets the vibe of the concept around which our restaurant stands tall.
Covid-19 has been a hurdle along the way; however we have been fortunate enough to overcome the same given our constant innovation. During the pandemic we took the initiative of introducing new items in the menu, something that would be unique for our patrons. Additionally, we focused more on the online sales which witnessed a steady hike during the pandemic. We also opened three outlets of Oudh 1590 in Kolkata during the pandemic to ensure that our brand is present across the length and breadth of the city.
Further, various other parameters have also witnessed a drastic change particularly due to the pandemic, which has brought to light the importance of adhering to appropriate hygiene protocol. Additionally, it is important to adapt and improve oneself with time passing by and providing hands on, robust training to the chefs and the entire kitchen team is very significant.
Opening new outlet amid the pandemic
The idea behind opening three new outlets of Oudh 1590 in the midst of the pandemic has been after much deliberation and careful consideration and the support we have received from our patrons indeed reinforced the righteousness of this decision. Since we have major pan India expansion plans by 2024 we considered Covid a right time to invest on real estate and manpower. Covid helped us get better real estate deals and absorb a great team of workforce since a lot of restaurants had closed down. While we have experienced a moderately good footfall, we have also witnessed a huge hike in online sales as people have ordered extensively through aggregators like Swiggy and Zomato, and through our internal home delivery fleet as well.
What change do you see in consumer behavior as we seen people have become much more experienced, aware about what they eat and consume?
With consumers gaining more exposure, they have evolved as a more matured and aware beings. The Covid-19 pandemic has made the consumers more aware of their health and safety which in turn reflected in their everyday activities. Additionally, there has been a dietary change in the palate of consumers as a result of health, sustainability and environmental concerns. In this regard, it is very crucial to innovate and provide the consumer with a wide array of options to choose from, bringing in new items to add to the existing menu. It is also important to adopt environmental-friendly practices and promote the concept of a healthy lifestyle. With the consumer being more aware of what they consume, they are also giving a good deal of importance to the hygiene of the food that is being delivered or served to them. With safety being of utmost priority the aggregators like Swiggy and Zomato have taken a huge leap as the ordering in trend has gained significant ground. Observing this change closely, we too have stepped up our internal home delivery fleet which is now dominating the sales scenario.
What are the top things you keep in mind while designing your restaurant?
There are a lot of factors to consider while designing a restaurant and we believe in providing a complete experience to our patrons. In this regard, it becomes imperative that we pay heed to each and every detail while designing our restaurant outlets. We ensure that the interiors are in sync with the theme of the restaurants- royal and ornate for Oudh 1590 while retro and effervescent for Chapter 2.
High on expansion
Presently, Oudh 1590 has eight outlets spread across the length and breadth of Kolkata and we have two outlets of Chapter 2, one in North and the other in South Kolkata, respectively. For Oudh 1590 we plan to open two more outlets in Kolkata and beyond 2022, we aim to spread nationally, opening 2-3 outlets across all major cities starting with Bangalore, and then moving onto Mumbai, Hyderabad and Delhi. With regard to Chapter 2, we have no plans of expanding beyond Kolkata.
On running a multi-brand hospitality
Running two drastically different concept restaurants across the city is a challenging endeavor which has been made easy over time given the overwhelmingly positive response we have received from our patrons. Oudh 1590 and Chapter 2 are created around ideas which are not related at all and to venture from a safe space to an unknown terrain and familiarizing ourselves with the same has been challenging as well as rewarding. A lot goes into the culmination and execution of the concept around which our restaurants have created and it is important to have a clear vision of the same to ensure proper implementation. A clear idea about the concept coupled with extensive research and hard work is imperative to running multi brand hospitality venture.
How important is involvement of senses in restaurant?
As times have evolved, the consumer is no longer on the lookout for good food but wants a complete involvement of all senses. For that purpose, we aim to provide the best experience encompassing an engagement of all senses and not just gastronomical through our ambience. We have designed our restaurants as per the themes around which our restaurants are created. Everything, starting from the menu to the items, the interior and the ambience is taken special care of for both our brands Oudh 1590 and Chapter 2. We are firm believers of the thought that one must go above and beyond to serve their customers and should not limit themselves to one particular aspect; thus, we believe in providing a wholesome engagement of all senses by taking care of every aspect in order to ensure our customers keep coming back for more.
What’s your view on venturing into online food business as we see that delivery is the future and more and more people are now willing to eat at home?
Post pandemic, there has been a distinctive shift in the dining patterns of the masses wherein the masses now prefer to order in more than dining out. With safety being of utmost priority the aggregators like Swiggy and Zomato have gained prominence. Observing this change closely, we too have stepped up our internal home delivery system.