Mumbai-based Francesco’s Pizzeria, famous for its handcrafted Italian pizzas (and also for its remote-controlled drone home delivery) is keen to expand in all the metros and tier 1 cities, informs CEO Mikhel Rajani
What is the concept of Francesco’s Pizzeria?
Francesco’s Pizzeria (FP) is an Italian pizzeria that serves and delivers the finest artisanal gourmet Italian pizzas. It has been named after our Italian friend Francesco, who is not only a great chef but has also helped us start this venture. We wanted to introduce a unique place where people can relish gourmet pizzas made from fresh and high quality ingredients, and without digging too deep into their pockets. Nowadays, people are quite aware about what they eat and we felt our artisanal pizzas would meet the growing demand for quality food by discerning consumers.
Our first outlet opened in Mumbai in 2012 at Kemp’s Corner, and the second a few months back at Phoenix Mills. Our outlets are about 1,000 sqft in size, and we have invested around Rs 50 lakhs in them. The Kemp’s Corner outlet has been growing at 20 percent year-on-year. The main focus here is on delivery, so it has a limited dining space.
The Phoenix Mills outlet has a larger dining area and is more modern and chic. Here, we offer free Wi-Fi for our guests, and comfortable couches for seating so that they can work on their laptops at ease while enjoying some good coffee. Francesco’s also offers daily specials and something new to interest our regular guests. In fact, we take feedback from them and even customise the dishes as per their requests. The journey so far has been amazing and a great learning experience!
What are Francesco’s Pizzeria’s unique differentiators?
Our pizzas taste completely different from any other as our ingredients are sourced from around the world. In fact, many of our pizzas are entirely unique in India and even in the world in terms of the combination of toppings. At the same time, we also keep Indian taste preferences in mind. We have worked with some great chefs (like Nidhi Behl) who think outside the box. Our aim has always been to go the extra mile to satisfy our customers. Our staff is well trained and always willing to accommodate special requests. At Francesco’s Pizzeria, customers at numerous occasions have noted this personal touch and attention to quality, and our business is growing via word of mouth.
Francesco’s offers a large variety of pizzas with healthy options included. At the Phoenix Mills outlet, we have a more extensive menu consisting of pastas, salads, and a wide assortment of desserts as well. The prices are extremely competitive as we would like to cater to a huge demography. Moreover, we have also ventured into the café space. We serve superb coffee prepared from freshly roasted blend, which is sourced from the best plantations in southern India.
Your drone delivery made headlines recently…
Yes. Francesco’s is the first company in India to attempt pizza delivery by a drone. In May this year, we successfully carried out test-delivery of a pizza to a customer located 1.5 km away from our outlet by using a remote-controlled, GPS-enabled unmanned drone. It was only an experiment as current regulations in India do not allow commercial use of such methods for product delivery. But we hope that in a few years’ time, it will become a regular feature. This will help save time as well as cost of delivery by two-wheelers.
What is your view of India’s current foodservice market?
Pizza is a perennial food and India is a huge market, which means that different brands can carve a space for themselves in the pizza space. Also, as compared to other developed markets, India has very few pizzerias competing for market share. I feel there is enough space for everyone as long as one offers good products and maintains high quality standards.
The biggest challenge is the rising cost of real estate, especially in metros and big cities, where commercial spaces are too expensive, and competition is really stiff. By focusing on leaner models like delivery, high control on quality, and having a strong and highly motivated team, I feel we will be able to overcome whatever challenges come our way. We also take an unconventional approach to marketing and have tried a lot of different ideas which have been well received by the market. We are active on social media and rely on newspaper inserts to spread the word in our locality. As part of our commitment to the environment, we plant trees in the names of our preferred customers.
Please share your expansion plans.
We plan to open another one or two stores in Mumbai over the next year. Besides, we are getting business enquiries from other cities as well. We are open to franchises but would like to partner with like-minded investors who share the same passion. For expansion, we are primarily targeting all metros and tier 1 cities in India.