The invincible restaurateur Priyank Sukhija – with his numerous and varied establishments – has changed the way people dine and drink in the Capital. Most Delhiites probably have dined, wined or partied at one of his almost two dozen establishments spread over the geography and culinary chronology of the city.
Priyank Sukhija is arguably Delhi’s most successful restaurateur – with a business model that’s exciting plenty of investors around the country. The young restaurateur has set an example that is rare to be replicated and he has been bringing about, over the last 15 years, a culinary revolution in the food culture of the city.
The youth icon – who recently won the Entrepreneur of the Year Award at the World Brand Summit 2016 in Dubai – reveals his future plans, marketing strategies and a lot more in an exclusive interview with Indiaretailing.com.
Take us through your journey as a restroprenuer so far. Which have been the major milestones accomplishments and how have they shaped and influenced your career?
Food has been always been my passion, but being from a family of a lawyers, my parents always assumed that I will also end up being a lawyer. However, they realized it soon after seeing by not-so-good grades in school and college that future holds something else for me. Despite having a degree in restaurant management, I decided to become a restaurateur when I realised nothing makes me more happy than eating and serving a delicious meal.
Elaborate on your business model.
I bring in about 20 per cent of the investment required and it can go up to 50 per cent of equity. The rest is charged as a fee from the partner for sharing a space in the restaurant concept with me. I bring with myself ownership of lot of responsibilities, which I do take care of. Right from executing the concept, hiring the chefs and the staff, and the day to day running of the restaurant.
What is your location strategy?
I opt for places which are easily accessible. I believe the ideal location should have a great view, accessibility and it should be in a successful market. I have a sharp eye for narrowing down the location for the restaurants.
When we opened Out Of The Box (OTB) Cafe at Hauz Khas, there was hardly any competition, but now it has become a hub for the eateries. While I was finalising Nehru Place Metro Station for The Flying Saucer, many people were skeptical about my decision. But, today it has come out to be the most sought after place in South Delhi. The dining scene in Connaught Place changed after I opened Warehouse Cafe there.
What technology is crucial to your business? Will it help improve profits and customer service?
All of my restaurants have tied up with mobile payment app Ruplee – Smart New Age Way to Pay. It helps customers to pay at their favourite restaurants directly with their phone. The app also helps in keeping a tab on the payment history along with monitoring all the spending. Built by payment and security experts, Ruplee is secure to use as all the credit/debit card data is safely stored and encrypted. Payments can only be authorized after entering CVV and 3D secure pin.
Use of technology adds to the joy of overall dining experience. Restroprenuers these days are using various technologies for security, surveillance, cash management, billing, etc. It helps us remotely control all major aspects of running a business without being physically present. With the options of online reservations, social media, and new payment methods, technology has infiltrated the food and restaurant industry like never before. It has smoothen the functioning of an outlet and thus helping in improving the sales.
What makes your restaurants different from other concept eateries in Delhi?
My restaurants are known for selling an experience and this makes them stand apart from the crowd. All my restaurants have an expansive menu and has dishes and drinks that can be enjoyed from a 15-year-old to a 70-year-old. Apart from this, I believe in providing the best entertainment in the city. With most sought after bands and artists performing at the restaurants, these eateries become a one stop solution for a complete entertainment. Priyank Sukhija Cafe Concept Private Limited is known for creating trends rather copying them blindly.
What are the new concepts and innovations that you have introduced at your restaurants?
Innovation is the key to success. I always aim to bring the finest experience to my restaurants. Lazeez Affaire was my first venture and its success motivated to open more restaurants. Today, I am successfully running 20 eateries like Warehouse Cafe, Townhouse Cafe, Openhouse Cafe, Lutyens Cocktail House, Hybrid, Lord Of The Drinks, Tamasha and Teddy Boy in CP, The Flying Saucer Cafe in Nehru place, Out Of The Box Cafe, Fork You and The Project in Hauz Khas Village and Warehouse Cafe in Gurugram.
Priyank Sukhija Cafe Concept Private Limited is the pioneer to introduce many new concept like Sufi Nights, Karaoke Nights and Unplugged Sessions. Other few concepts and innovations are 365 dishes menu at Warehouse Cafe, opened first burger cafe – Fork You, award-winning cocktail bar – Lutyens Cocktail House and magnum drinking bar – Lord Of The Drinks. I have made sure not to repeat any concept in any of my restaurant. Each place has its own identity and known for offering something unique.
Are all your restaurants owned by you or are they on a franchise model?
A year ago, we tied up with Cybiz Corp, a company that is into expansion of franchises. We have opened opened franchise outlets of Out Of The Box in Gurugram, Warehouse Café in Gurugram and Boombox Café in Gurugram and Rajouri Garden. Rest of the restaurants are owned by the company – Priyank Sukhija Cafe Concept Private Limited.
In today’s struggling economy, what steps have you taken to continue to lure consumers in?
We are blessed to be living in an era where there is no recession in the food industry. People these days don’t hesitate from stepping out to have good time and it works for us. But in return, we assure quality time to our customers.
All our restaurants are based on different concepts and we try our level best to offer a unique dining experience to the diners. I believe interior of any restaurant plays an important role in making the dining experience memorable. This is the reason, I never compromise on the décor of my restaurants. Apart from this, to lure the customers I serve scrumptious food at competitive prices.
What are the marketing strategies that you follow to promote your restaurants?
We don’t do different things, we do things differently. I believe that the marketing idea should be effective enough to force customers to come back to the restaurant again and again.
My in-house marketing strategies include serving the scrumptious food at economical prices in an apt ambience. Whereas outdoor marketing strategies depend on the location and concept of a restaurant. Generally, we adopt various marketing tools like print media, electronic media, customer feedback, media feedback, advertisements and blogger’s meet to name a few.
While curating a menu what are the considerations that you keep in mind? What importance do prices hold in attracting customers? Is it the taste or the price that matters?
Delhi is a hub for well traveled foodies. So, while curating the menu, we make sure that there is something to satisfy all the palates and preferences. Our menus have everything from Italian to Continental, Oriental, Indian and Comfort Food at right prices and in perfect portions.
Pricing definitely plays an important role in attracting the customers, but I feel what matters the most is the complete package – delicious food, right ambience and comparative prices.
It is the taste with price that matters.
What is the typical profitability timeline for any restaurant?
It differs from brand to brand. But it takes at least 2 years for any brand to get into the profitability mode.
Casual dining or fine dining – which is going to rule in the future and why?
I believe casual dining being friendly and lively is going to rule in the future and it also has the capability to please masses and classes equally. It has something to offer for all the age groups.
Please share details of revenue forecast for current fiscal.
With the number of eateries that come under the umbrella of Priyank Sukhija Cafe Concept Private Limited, I am assuming the turnover of Rs 300 crore this year. With more units lined up for the coming year, by year 2019-2020, I am expecting the figures to go up to Rs 500 crore.
Share the revenue arrangement with investors.
Revenue arrangement with investors varies from 5 per cent to 40 percent depending on the investment and operations.
What does the future hold in store?
I am looking forward to expand my restaurants nationally as well as internationally. Recently, I have opened The Flying Saucer in Pune. We are planning to open Lord Of The Drinks in Mumbai.
There are a few restaurants which will be soon opening in Delhi – Lord Of The Drinks Chamber in Rajouri Garden and Jalwa in Connaught Place. I am also opening Tamasha and The Flying Saucer in different parts of Delhi. It is still in the pipeline.
For international expansions, I am exploring Dubai, London and San Francisco.