Bangalore’s newest resto-cafe Smallys has bagged the Limca Book of Records 2015 for being the smallest restaurant in the country, and it is also popular for it’s not so small portions. As Nikhil Hegde, Founder and Director, says: “Space can never be a constraint to success”
Hegde, a media and event planner, had been toying with the idea of opening a resto-cafe for the past 6 years. He invested Rs 20 lakh on a 138 square feet basement garage at Assaye Road in Ulsoor on the assumption that he could go as small as he wanted as there was demand for takeaways and deliveries.
The aptly named Smallys can accommodate 5 – 6 customers, and there is an adjacent kitchen space equipped with burners, ovens, fryers, mincers and refrigeration, but no food storage space. Wooden benches and stools, cushions, graffiti on the walls, wood framed old posters, Old Monk and Black Label bottles converted into lampshades, cups and saucers nailed on the ceiling, and a flat screen television, make up the rustic interiors. Fruit juices and milk shakes are served in mason jars.
The initial curiosity on the cafe’s size soon turned to appreciation for its (primarily) Continental and American food that include burgers, spaghetti bolognese, fish and chips, pizzas, steaks and pastas, and some Mangalorean dishes. The fastest moving dish currently is the 170 gm Trucker burger. Different dishes are introduced every 3 months. At the helm is Chef John Paul, who brings with him industry experience of 12 years, including at micro-breweries that catered to no less than 600 to 800 customers in a day.
According to Hegde: “Smallys stands apart from other cafés because here, food is prepared freshly, and there are no preservatives used. A sandwich or a burger is served fresh in less than 10 minutes. The meats and other raw ingredients are bought in every morning. We never carry forward meat to the next day, even though we have more dishes on the menu than most QSR chains.” He informs that they get 90 to 120 walk-ins.in a day, but the delivery module comprises a sizable chunk.
He has opened another 300 sqft cafe close by, with a seating capacity of 15 to 18, and is confident that he will break even within the next 7 – 8 months. He is also considering opening 3 more similar formats in Ulsoor, New BEL Road, and Indiranagar, where he is looking for 350 to 500 square feet space in centrally located areas. Says Hegde,”Trends are always changing. People are looking for new concepts whether it’s clothes, food or gadgets. We made sure we were different.”