Four entrepreneurs took the risk of leaving their secure jobs to set up Bean Tree Coffee (BTC). The result is three different concept restaurants – Desi Vibes, Kaffiiaa, and Nysha Bar & Grill. Partners Manas Wadhwa, Varun Khera, Charu Ralli and Sachin Maharia discuss the challenges of running a food service business with foodService India.
What was the ideation behind these restaurants?
Wadhwa: There are different reasons for us to have started these restaurants. For example, the idea to start Kaffiiaa came when we experienced good coffee being served alongside terrible sandwiches in a café. So the idea of starting an Italian café came about. Similarly, we noticed that there was a huge vaccum in the market for an informal place where one could bring their family for casual drinks and good food. So we set up Nysha, where we have a separate section for families.
What infrastructure have you put in place?
Maharia: The kitchen has been sub-divided into four different parts: the receiving dock, storage (dry, fresh, temperature controlled), preparation area, and cooking area. Every area is equipped with gadgets and technology for optimum functioning. For example, there is a biometric access system in the kitchen, and we have an MMS terminal along with the weighing scales in the receiving area. In fact, we are trying to automate our entire supply chain and go completely paperless. All our vendors are online now, but we had to deal with some difficulty initially as some are from the unorganised sector. We held training sessions to make them familiar with the online system.
What is your staff strength and support?
Khera: Every outlet has one chef to run the kitchen, who is supported by three to four chef de parties (CDPs), who take care of different sections in the kitchen, and are assisted by commis and helpers. All new members undergo a training programme for basic hygiene, safety, customer service, handling complaints, and on understanding the standard recipes. We also have refresher courses to sharpen the team’s skills, and periodic workshops in coordination with the best trainers in the industry like chefs from star hotels.
What are your efficiencies in supply and logistics?
Ralli: Delivering a great dining experience at a reasonable price in an ever-changing marketplace is no small billing, especially as big chains prepare against soaring fuel costs, product quality concerns, and nutritional mandates. Our restaurants routinely introduce new items on the menu, and work with suppliers and service providers to bring new ingredients. Since the shelf life of most food items is very less, we have to follow a completely different inventory management strategy, for instance, we have to handle fresh supplies with different handling protocols, like milk has to be stored at 4 degree celsius, and so on.
From where do you source your food ingredients?
Wadhwa: We have a middle management person who works alongwith the chefs in sourcing the food ingredients. We have a rigorous vendor selection procedure that ensures the freshness, hygiene, quality control and food safety of all the ingredients. For international dishes, ingredients from the country of origin are supplied by government-approved importers.
What determined your choice of location, in this case, Noida, for all your restaurants?
Khera: Noida, over the years, has become a potpourri of different cultures and food habits. People from all over the country populate the region. Sector 18 especially, has become one of the biggest food hubs for different cuisines. For our restaurants, we had to make an investment of approximately Rs 3,000-3,500 per sqft.
What are your expansion plans?
Maharia: Initially, we will focus on Delhi/NCR markets only. We are in the process of developing various formats for market specific locations, for instance, we are considering kiosks in food courts in malls, and full service sit-down restaurants in high streets. We have tied up with Francorp to open around 6 to 7 outlets in the next 18 months.