-Swathi Prabu (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Chennai based Zaitoon is known as a perfect place in town to taste the best Arabic Food and BBQ. Established as one of the most popular entrants into the string, this restaurant serves Middle-East food along with Indian and Chinese. With pandemic coming to an end, Chennai based Zaitoon is all set to expand across South Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka. Founder-CEO Noufal Narikkoli and Co Founder and COO Fardan T K from Zaitoon group of restaurants , speaks exclusively on the way pandemic has given new perspective to the business. Edited excerpts.
Has consumers’ interest towards Arabic food has increased more over a period of time?
Arabian cuisine, without any doubt, gave us an edge among other restaurants. We are quite confident that it is not easy to duplicate our Arabic culinary skills. Moreover, our Arabian dishes are updated every now and then, with a focus on the changes in taste of customers. We are both specialists and shapeshifters of Arabian menu. We have seen a spike in Arab food lovers over time.
How do you see the way a pandemic has transformed the food business?
The number of opportunities this pandemic has created is helping every sector to grow. Many investors outside India are willing to invest in the restaurant businesses and want to settle with the family. The restaurant businesses are going online. Even though people are enjoying their food of their favourite restaurants from the couch, the fee, ambience which a restaurant might give is not replaceable. Thus, given a chance, people will always feel like coming to the restaurant and hoping the pandemic ends soon and the business gets its glory back.
As a restaurant owner, how did u tackle this tough time?
Pandemic situations are unusual and universal at the same time. It has created a shift in perspective of consumers. Of late, consumers are eager to avoid unnecessary expenses during this period of economic uncertainty and a potential lack of transparency on how food is prepared (notably a lack of hygiene oversight in the case of third-party delivery platforms), is the general trend.
Having said that, Zaitoon has been instrumental in providing quality food within a standard rate. Our customers have always been waiting for dining options, thanks to our hospitality, hygiene and high-quality food. Following the Governmental regulations, we maintained a steady presence in online food delivery. With our association with major food delivery applications, we easily placed ourselves among the top-rated restaurants.
Our profit, in its business sense, has obviously declined. Considering the promotional offers, profit percentage and other charges to the delivery applications, indeed there was a dip in profit. Amidst all these, We surely managed to keep our customer base intact.
Is the delivery concept or dine in which is easier and why?
For us, serving our customers in person is such a gratifying experience. It is easily our favourite, any time of the day. Being a responsible law-abiding firm, We follow the guidelines of the government without any fail. Hence, we make sure our food delivery and the food delivered meet the expectations.
Have you attempted any unique dishes at your outlets?
All our dishes stand out. We take pride in the diverse range of cuisines our menu offers. All the dishes go through strict quality checks before they are lovingly prepared by our chefs. If you ask to hand pick a few, which is quite a task, we would go for our barbeque items, tawa platter and kozi rice. They are the toppers in our customers’ lists.
Some of the key dishes available in Zaitoon
Do you think the vegan concept has impacted the non veg eaters?
Vegan concept is surely a movement to watch. Vegetarian diet and the vegan diet are individualised and vary from person to person. Though we have choices for vegans and vegetarians to try, we can confidently claim that our non-vegetarian dishes are the show stealers. Our signature dishes are popular and have a strong fan base throughout the seasons. From our experience, Vegan concepts haven’t affected our non-vegetarian menu.
What efforts you make to stand out in the crowd?
The USP of Zaitoon is simple, great food and great service which stand for a premium customer centric approach. Our menu just gets better with a wide range of options for all sorts of audiences. With a wider market appeal, we cater different cuisines and our concept of all day dining doesn’t restrict customers from ordering based on the time. Irrespective of age, from the starters to the desserts, we wouldn’t dissatisfy our customers.
What are the expansion plans for Zaitoon?
Zaitoon is all set to expand, with a new brand identity. Our new outlets in Calicut(Kerala), Vellore, Tambaram and a signature project in Nungambakkam are launching soon. With an energetic potential in Qatar, we are ready to extend our service to the Middle East. Ongoing discussions on new projects In Tamil Nadu (mainly south tamilnadu), Kochi(Kerala) and Karnataka are also in the pipeline.
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