Umang Tewari, promoter of Big Fish Ventures, which operates popular restaurant brands like Garam Dharam, The Junction, Local, The Vault, and Junkyard Café speaks to FoodService India about his outlets‘ unique themes and concepts and how he plans to grow his restaurant business in the future.
Tell us about your company and the restaurants that it operates.
Our company Big Fish Ventures operates some of the premium casual dining lounges in Delhi like Garam Dharam, The Junction, Local, Vault Café, Junkyard Café, Café OMG and a few more. Also, we are planning to expand most of our current outlets and brands in other metros like Mumbai, Bangalore, and some other cities.
What is your market positioning, your USP and customer value proposition?
Our restaurants are concept-driven and our target audience is the people who want to eat and drink in style. It’s for the people who love to experiment and are seeking an overall experience. Besides, most of the customers come back for the kind of ambience and culinary experience we offer. At Big Fish Ventures, we try to bring in the best of concepts from all around the world and by infusing our outlets with a variety of food inovations.
Today, the customer has become more experimental in trying out new things. We are surely doing more experiments this year. Besides, food has always been the fundamental reason to dine out. And experimentation becomes important so that your food outing is always to be enjoyed and not be monotonous. We make sure that each of our restaurant is different from the other and to achieve that we present things differently. We ensure that our interiors and F&B are above the notch, and at the same time we try to keep are our offerings very pocket-friendly.
Today, diners are looking for out-of-the box concepts and something that breaks the daily monotony of home dining. Tell us about all that makes your outlets unique– in terms of F&B innovations, cuisines, restaurant layout and design, etc.
For sure, our customer is much evolved and travelled. They are all set to embrace the innovations in the form of concept restaurants. We make sure that each of our brand is unique and different. We don’t replicate the things of one brand and copy it to another. Rather, we create different things for each brand. One of my successful venture is Garam Dharam, which is a concept restaurant inspired from the veteran actor Dharmendra’s style. Besides, Garam Dharam is surely a one-of-its-kind restaurant, which is designed keeping in mind the huge fan following of the actor. With good music, quirky and lively ambience, the restaurant offers some authentic and innovative delicacies.
Which are those cutting edge concepts and innovations that you feel are truly unique to your establishment?
With new restaurant concepts, culinary trends coming in, the food service industry is constantly evolving. Gradually, the industry has drifted from more traditional concepts and has adapted international concepts. With more evovled customers, people like to experiment with new things and this encourages us to come up with something new everytime.
As far as the restaurant’s name is concerned, I like to keep it simple and strong. I feel that the name should communicate the theme. So, we pick one element that sets the theme of the place, and we name it accordingly such as Garam Dharam, Junkyard, The Junction, Local and so on.
What is your opinion about the growth outlook and market potential for restaurant cum bars. What do you feel are the prerequisites for success in this segment?
Currently, the food service industry is pretty dynamic. I feel it has room for all kinds of offerings from accross the world in terms of food, drinks, ambience and events. We plan to grow bigger and better in all the four dynamics – right location, pricing, unique concepts and offerings are a few things which we have in mind for this year. Moreover, Big Fish Ventures is planning to launch over 40 outlets across India and overseas over next 2 years. In fact, very soon we are planning to open Garam Dharam in Murthal, which is one of our biggest projects.
How do you see the future of gastro bars and molecular bars as far as the bar scene is concerned?
I feel 2017 is a year of concept restaurants. Apart from the quality of food, the concept and interiors of the place play a pivotal role in making the place successful.
The past year was a year of international flavours but this year we are seeing a more wider audience as exposure to international cuisines has increased and we are also experimenting more with it. Also, it is important to have the right balance of both the classic and experimental flavours.
The Indian palate is about having dishes that are mass accepted and with an international touch. Moreover, we will see a surge in the trends of plating and presentation. It certainly enhances your appetite and enjoyment of the food that is being served and adds on to your dining experience.
How are you leveraging technology to streamline and expand your infrastructure bandwidth?
I have always been a tech freak and have recently launched a mobile application for Big Fish Ventures. This mobile app is created to offer the best of services to our customers. It is basically a centralised application, which will keep you informed about all our outlets. Big Fish Venture’s move may set the trend for large multi-format restaurant chains developing their own apps and eventually posing a competition to the specialised dining and reservation app operators like Zomato, Dineout, EazyDiner and Reserveyourtable.
Till today, people follow these sites to know more about us. When we have our own app with loyalty schemes as well, people for sure would refer us instead of other apps. So in a way this would generate more traffi c on our application. The app will cater to its 60,000 customer base who frequently visit our restaurants every month in a better way. Besides, we have plans to bring over 2 lakh customers by end of this year. Our mobile application is to simplify the customer needs. Right from table reservation to loyalty offers to discounts to all information regarding our outlets – Big Fish mobile application will give you all the information regarding our outlets. The app has unique features like the loyalty program known as the ‘Big Loyalty’, which enables a consumer to gain 5,000 points on every download and subsequently on every billing and redeem them with exciting discounts, offers and deals exclusive to the app. In the next phase, we also plan to launch a wallet, which will give more value adds to the customer on each spend by giving them a cash back.
How much of your earnings is spent back as investment into the business. Which are the priority areas of such investment?
Restaurant business is an everyday investment. After building a place, you need funds for marketing and operations. For a restaurant, every day comes up with a new challenge and we needenough to serve our customers and clients in terms of food, music, events, campaigns, artists and much more. We invest Rs. 4-5 crore per outlet. Our returns are around Rs. 30-40 crore in an year for all the outlets. We are also investing 80-85 per cent of the income for setting up more outlets.