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Social and casual will be the buzz words in 2016

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Dharmesh Karmokar, Partner and Food & Beverage consultant at Hotel Aureole, speaks to FoodService India about the growth in the demand for good quality affordable bars and newer cuisines such as Peruvian, Bhutanese and Cambodian in the times to come

What were some of the significant milestones your company achieved in 2015?

Year 2015 was high on innovation. Our company, United Facets Hospitality, is in the business of breathing soul into hospitality brands. Social media, simplicity in the communication message and advancement in the IT methods have been the agents of bringing about change. Good clean pictures with only five words in the message go
further in the complex web world. We have achieved just that. We have launched a hotel in Andheri East called Aureole Hotel and Jeon, the 24 hour eatery, at Sea Princess Hotel. A bar at Lower Parel is scheduled to open and a fine dine restaurant in BKC.

What are your expectations from 2016?

We are looking at 2016 to be the year when the market segments will dissolve on the price front. Guests from mid-to high-segment no longer hesitate to enter a bar which is low priced, if the hospitality brand is ‘cool’. This will bring new pressure on hospitality companies. As a large chunk of the youth enter the drinking age every year, the numbers for the same are on the rise and so is the demand for bars. Open a bar and it will do well. On the food front, newer cuisines like Peruvian, Bhutanese and Cambodian will see new takers. And most interestingly, chefs will start owning restaurants and I see this trend increasing every year. In one word, divergence will rule.

Dharmesh 1What are your goals for 2016? How do you plan to achieve those?

I want to open two junk bars, one fine dine and a cute little cafe. These are my personal targets. Either I will purely consult or own them, but these are my clear goals. And if things work out , a sinful healthy concept – yes, it will be sinful and healthy. Property  location is the key in this industry. Give me a good location at a good price and it will be ready. Everyday, meeting professionals from the industry makes it very interesting because we discuss our challenges and everybody is ready to help. NRAI has been a boon for hospitality professionals and we work to help each other. Things get easier to achieve when we are together.

What will be the key challenges in 2016?

Property and FSSAI clearances. Real estate itself is going through its cyclic change and it is on a downward trend, hence it will take time for landlords to come to terms with the fact that their properties will fetch them lower rents. And, as more and more ingredients need to come to our country, we need to get our clearances as soon as we can. Though these processes take time, we need to work on a quicker process. Training of skill sets will need huge investments from the hospitality sector. We will all have to invest in a small training classroom with quality material and videos.

What will be the trends to look out for in 2016?

Innovative concepts spearheaded by youth and an increasing number of chef-owned outlets will rule in 2016. India may even produce our very own Tod English or Gordon Ramsay’s. 2016 will see international brands but they will need to reinvent. I see a lot more bars opening up than restaurants as the ROI on bars is fantastic. The big boys will perhaps make mistakes but the niche players will succeed and fare far better. Junk bars are here to stay and I look forward to a big push from the government for this sector.

Which format according to you will thrive in 2016 (casual, fast casual, QSR, fine dine, etc) and why?

Social and casual will be the buzz words in 2016. Brands that are very active on social media and are a platform for socialising will do far better than others. Bars will spring up everywhere. The youth will drive hospitality in 2016.

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