Swaminathan B (firstname.lastname@example.org/ +917718960636)
While working as a supervisor post-management degree at a restaurant in Madurai, Arun Reddy would have never thought he is in the learning phase towards building one of the authentic vegetarian restaurants in Kochi.
‘Brindhavan’ would be the mutual decision when any family starts arguing on “Where shall we eat?”. Located in two strategic places with close 130 seats, the restaurant serves wide range of North and South Indian dishes. The hotel came after a much demand from the market which only Uduppi-style hotels in Kochi. From the family of hotel business Arun did want to enter the business in haste. “Everyone in the circle around me was hotelier. But that cannot be a single qualification for me to be a successful hotelier. I wanted to learn the nuances in the business. After my MBA, I worked for a leading restaurant at Madurai. The city could be called as a food Capital of the South India. The number, taste, backend are so unique. I could say, that was my proper learning arena which helped me to understand the industry better”, Arun says.
What is so unique?
According to Arun, the taste and quality makes it so unique and bring customers back. For predominantly non-vegetarian consuming products, selling pure-vegetarian food is always a challenge. Arun says that unlike in other markets, in Kerala people do not in desperate need of a pure-vegetarian restaurant given the fact that there are plenty of non-vegetarian outlets providing vegetarian food too. Even though most items in Brindhavan are Tamil-style foods, some modifications are also made in the menu in accordance with the local demands. In fact, any hotelier has to hard-sell the vegetarian food products in the market. “We design the vegetarian menu with a blend of non-veg flavor to meet the hidden non-veg craving of our eaters. For example, we have a menu called ‘podhi-parotta’ which is a vegetarian item that is parcelled and roped in a banana leaf like a non-veg item. Also, some of the items on the menu are localized to attract the local eaters. The sambhar provided in Brindhavan is not the traditional one that one can find in other restaurants.
A centralized kitchen serves the needs of both the outlets of Brindhavan. Another one unique aspect of the restaurant is the procurement mechanism. “We are never ‘penny-wise and pound-foolish’ in product procurement. If we find a good food material, we will put all our efforts to bring it to our kitchen whatsoever the price is. When our customers pay a higher price for our products, we should also ensure our purchases are of premium quality”, says Arun who says every product he purchases will undergo stringent testing in terms of quality and taste.
Arun says today the biggest challenge every hotelier should address is the queue waiting to eat. “Before charting a layout plan, hoteliers should keep in mind, the queue mechanism. It takes so much of efforts for us to make the customer enter the restaurant. However, if we fail to take care of them once they step in all our efforts would end up in vein”, he says and added a customer’s decision can change within a fraction of second when they have issues in parking and queue system which will spread as wild fire in course of time. Thus Arun suggests hoteliers should try to engage the guests in a waiting room with proper welcome drink and should have a mechanism where one can predict what time a customer will enter and at what time they would be able to finish, time to clear the table which will let the next guest to dine.
Brindhavan tackled COVID in a better way while only 14 days, it was shut down and after the first two weeks of the lockdown, the outlet was shut. Later, it slowly managed to start the supply of food and delivered through their own and online system.
Suggestions for other hoteliers:
Speaking on the suggestions for other hoteliers, Arun asks them to be persistent. “The first few years will be tough. Even it took almost 3 to 4 years of initial years with the first outlet. However, thanks to the efforts we made in the first few years, we were able to meet our numbers from day 1. There will be a time when you will feel like winding up. Please do not fall prey for what others say and stay determined”, says Arun. As a concluding note, Arun asks the hotel owners to adopt process-driven administration and not people. “People will come and go. However, there should be a process that is unique for your organization in every aspect- from cleaning to finance management. All the alumni of Brindhavan hotel carry at least something of our style wherever they go”, says Arun who had adopted all technologies to find even a small flaw in the entire value chain.
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