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How to sustain a restaurant’s brand appeal? What is the scope for scalability and home delivery? What does it take to keep to the promise? And finally, food courts that are cropping up as a part of mall culture. At Food Forum India 2009, industry captains gathered to discuss the issues at the session on ‘Annual Conclave of National Restaurant Association of India’ (NRAI).

“Restaurants are places that try to provide an ambience of ‘home away from home’. The experience is what the consumers cherish and keep coming back for more.” AD Singh, director, Olive Bar & Kitchen said in his reaction to the issues.

Vikram Bakshi, MD, McDonald’s (north and east India) and president, NRAI anchored the session along with Samir Kuckreja, MD, Nirula’s and VP, NRAI.

On the other lines, Rahul Akerkar, executive chef and MD, Indigo, felt, “People visit restaurants primarily to enjoy good food. So restaurants need to maintain their quality and re-invent their menu with time. The dinning customers are the true brand managers for us.”

Jay Singh, co-founder and ED, JSM Corporation (Hard Rock Café and Shiro) also believed in the idea of ambiance generation in order to be a crowd puller.

Dheeraj Gupta, co-founder, Jumbo King Vada Pav, spoke at large on how a local product can be made to have a global appeal through various smart strategies. He also pointed out that the Indian brands can scale to greater heights by focusing on their core products instead of trying to come out with hundreds of products.

Ajay Kaul, CEO, Domino’s India pointed out how the lifestyle needs have made the concept of home delivery a necessity.

Amit Jatia, MD, Mc Donald’s (west and south India), said, “The challenge is to provide fresh food on time. In order to do so, the infrastructure is very important.”

Dhiren Kanwar, SVP Future Capital Real Estate, pointed out, “The Food Court should have local brands that can establish an emotional connect with the masses – Vada pav for an example in Mumbai.”

Tej Pavan Singh Gandhok, CEO, Lite Bite Foods, said, “Food courts serve as important anchors at the malls or the modern retail spaces.”

— Sayanti Banerjee, Mumbai Bureau

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