Indian Cookery Private Limited (ICPL), the restaurant venture of celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor, is going to set up a country-wide chain of Indian quick service restaurants (QSRs) in 2012. The prototype of the new and unique concept is under development and will be ready for testing in a few months, according to company officials.
Speaking exclusively to “IndiaRetailing,” ICPL Managing Director Manish Tandon said: “Strangely, there is not a single chain of QSRs in India serving Indian food in the fashion of McDonald’s or KFC. We plan to fill this gap by launching the first-ever QSR format that will serve specially developed Indian dishes at the counter in anywhere from 90 seconds to five minutes.”
ICPL will be launching the first outlet of the new chain – which has been christened Indii – in the first quarter of 2012. The company will test the prototype for four to five months before scaling up the format all over India. Tandon did not share the details of the menu, but revealed that Chef Kapoor is researching unique Indian dishes that will appeal to all Indians.
“The offerings at Indii will go across regional food categories to suit the palate of all Indians. We believe it is possible to create typically Indian food which will be equally liked by everyone from Kashmir to Kanyakumari,” Tandon said. “We will develop a platform that will be like a typical KFC or McDonald’s and scale it up quickly. We have pan-India plans. The expansion of the format will be led by franchisees not only in India but in other countries too. We are getting many enquiries from abroad from entrepreneurs who want to set up QSRs selling Indian food.”
Starting in 2012, ICPL will be opening 10 to 20 outlets of Indii in 2013, and around 50 thereafter every year. “We will initially focus on tier I cities because it is easier to set up operations there, especially the supply chain. The expansion will follow the island structure where one region gets fully saturated with the outlets before moving to other areas of the country,” Tandon added.
Most entrepreneurs in India who have tried to set up Indian QSRs have gone down the route of Haldiram’s, Bikanervala, or Saravana Bhawan. “But these are not QSRs in the true sense because you cannot expect to be served clean, hygienic food in 90 seconds flat, like at McDonald’s. Also, these are still regional chains,” said Tandon. “At Indii, we will be racing against time to serve Indian dishes to customers on the payment counter, like the Western fast-food chains. Our outlets will be open from early morning to mid-night. Also, we will be a national chain, not a regional one. “ The main challenge for the company would be to expand the format India-wide while maintaining consistent food quality, he added.
ICPL currently runs around 25 restaurants in a dozen cities under the brand names of Yellow Chilli (casual Indian dining), Khazana (upscale dining), Pin Yin Café (casual Asian cuisine), Signature by Sanjeev Kapoor (super fine dining) and the recently launched Sura Vie (lounge bar). The company intends scaling up aggressively to become a 150-restaurants-strong brand by 2015 by following a franchise-based model.