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-AyshwariaLakshmi Prem (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Madurai, a city in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, is known for its vibrant and diverse rich flavours, traditional dishes, and unique culinary heritage. The city offers a diverse range of culinary experiences, from street food to fine dining, showcasing the rich flavours and culinary traditions of the region.
The food industry in Madurai is a significant contributor to the city’s culture, economy, and tourism. Some popular dishes from Madurai include kothu parotta, vada curry, muttai dosai,, parotta, biryani, and Jigarthanda (a local dessert).
This strong diverse and cultural heritage is reflected in its catering business as well. It has about 50 registered caterers and over 200 unregistered caterers. Its strong heritage background .
Like in any other city, the catering business in Madurai plays a vital role in providing food and hospitality services for various events and occasions. The city’s cultural heritage and vibrant celebrations allow for a market with opportunity for catering businesses to thrive.
Hari Kailash, Manager of Veterivel Catering who has been in business for over 15 years tells Kitchen Herald that, “The madurai market is a place with opportunities to excel and succeed in the catering business. But it is largely unorganised and needs rigorous branding and systemisation to be done by the catering businesses themselves.”
The catering industry in Madurai is competitive, with both established players and smaller businesses vying for clients. Differentiation can be achieved through unique offerings, exceptional customer service, innovative presentation, and maintaining a strong reputation.
He further added that, by branding and systemisation one needs to make their services a brand of their own and also ensure the entire process is easier and organised. The clients these days are looking for more organised and consistent services from the business. For instance, he says the food order, the dishes being plated should be the same from the first plate to the last plate. There should be no discrepancies in the process.
Difficult market to enter
Starting and running a catering business in Madurai requires careful planning, attention to quality, and strong customer relationships. It is essential to understand the local preferences, cultural nuances, and maintain a high level of professionalism to thrive in the competitive catering industry of Madurai.
R Vijay Prakash, founder, Annapoorani Catering tells that “ Madurai market is very competitive and it is a very tough market to enter. Only those who know the business and worked as assistants to another catering company can survive in the highly competitive market. It is important for a business in this region to get deep into the cultural nuances and preferences and deliver consistently. “
He further says that because of high competition, he faces the challenge of reduced profit in hand for circulation. For instance, if ten years back businesses were saving 30 percent, now they do not retain more than 5 to 10 percent. While the high competition is a reason, the increase in pricing has made profits for circulation and founder’s take home profit reduced.
Kumar, founder of Sangeeth Catering who is from a family of restaurateurs, agrees that those who have a background in the industry get recognised in the market and are able to build their own clientele . “We are in the premium catering business. For all the dishes provided under me, I outsource the chefs and have them cook for the event. In a business model like mine, you need to understand the market, be prepared for any situation. This was possible for me as I do have an extensive understanding of the business and the market.”
Kumar agrees that his charges are a little on the pricey side but he built his own niche clients as he had a background in the Madurai food industry. Also, his services include offering a range of dishes that includes Malabar cuisine, North Indian dishes, Italian and more.
Advice to the upcoming business owners
S Ramanan, owner, Sri Sathya Catering who has been in the business of catering service for over 40 years further elaborates on this point and said, “The catering service exists to make the clients event hassle-free when it comes to food. In this age, the respect is not for the catering business owner but for the food and service one provides. If there is a lack of anything, it would be a black mark to the entering catering company.”
Reputation and word-of-mouth recommendations play a significant role in the success of catering businesses in Madurai. Satisfied clients and positive reviews can lead to referrals and repeat business.
In Madurai’s catering business, emphasis is often placed on quality, taste, and authenticity of the food. Caterers strive to offer traditional flavours and maintain high standards of hygiene and food safety.
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