With a keen insight into restaurants and their trends, restaurateur Mihir Desai’s 7,000-square feet outlet – The Bar Stock Exchange at Kamala Mills, Mumbai – has proved to be a roaring hit with the city’s eating-out crowd. In just over two years of operation, the TBSE app has been downloaded over five lakh times so far and the brand has expanded to 10 outlets across popular dining hotspots in the city. In deference to the brand’s soaring popularity, Desai and his partner have decided to take the brand to more new places in the city and beyond. “We are working on new bar models and concepts, which will launch soon,” shares Desai, in a chat with FoodService India.
What is unique about the format and concept of The Bar Stock Exchange?
The Bar Stock Exchange (TBSE) allows trading in alcohol whilst making sure you have a great exchange (of conversation, of course!). Starting with a base price for 30 ml/ 60 ml/ full bottle, the price of your favorite drink rises in direct proportion to its consumption over a period of time at the bar. Every increase in the number of pegs/ pints ordered by a patron also increases its value margin. On the other hand, the price comes down if time is on your side and if orders for the same drink decrease over a period of time. But before you gasp in worry, our circuit breaker system will ensure that you get the best bang out of your buck always (whether your favourite stock be high or low).
Our company, Corum Hospitality, believes in constantly trying harder and doing better than what we have done before. Our aim is to give a better service and great experience to our customers. In our other restaurants, apart from The Bar Stock Exchange, we strive to give our customers a good value for money for we believe that if the food is worth every penny spent, then the other factors, in case we lack in them, can be worked upon and improved. But a customer will always come back, for sure, for the food. To explain it further, our other brand Desi Culture is a restaurant that defines fusion food and we make sure that there is value for money for our customers.
What has been the response of the guests to this somewhat quirky bar concept?
We are indeed grateful to our patrons. The responses have been deeply fulfilling. Our numbers cross an average of 700 people per outlet per day! Especially during the period of offers, the number of people nearly double and we run full all the time. It’s overwhelming, challenging and satisfying. The TBSE app has been downloaded five lakh times so far; in fact, we are working on new bar models and concepts, which will launch soon. We have won awards for our brand in each year of our operations and have expanded to over 10 outlets under 2/ 2.5 years.
Which of your brands has been most successful in terms of sales and customer traction?
The Bar Stock Exchange has been the most successful brand out of the other brands. The footfall, as mentioned earlier, is 7,000 a day at any given point. We have evolved and grown over the years. After carefully taking customer feedback and analyzing the places of improvement, we have worked on our TBSE app and have come up with better deals and offers. Also, in terms of food as well, we have strived to make the food better. Sometimes we have guests who come in just to dine in and love our food. Teetotalers, foodies, cocktail lovers, TBSE is a place for all.
What is the market positioning that your brands are looking to create?
Our brands are approachable and affable. We are looking to create brands that stand for VFM (value for money). We want to be a company totally focused on customers.
How and in what forms are you deploying technology to make your business more efficient and customer-friendly?
We are already using technology to give dynamic pricing experience at our bar but we do aim to go further. In hospitality, one expects to get a personalized experience. So we have to maintain the balance and not go overboard. But to enhance the service experience for our consumers, we plan to explore how AI (artificial intelligence) can help us add value to the overall experience. We do see a future there.
What is your marketing and sales strategy and which tools you are using to promote the brand?
We are organic and consumer driven in our marketing approach. We intelligently use our application to push out notifications besides making use of PR, social media, a small part of ATL, and offers on alcohol to communicate new openings, offerings, etc. We have learnt that location is the key in our business. Also, innovation is as important as the core product, so one must keep upgrading and changing menu from time to time, experimenting with offers and maintain a keen eye on market trends to cash in on the wave.
As customer is king, you must be open to listening what he has to say each time and be willing to learn from his/ her opinions and behavior patterns. What are your plans and targets for the future?
At TBSE, we aim to revolutionize the whole trend of going to the bar. We believe in engaging our consumers with the use of technology and in attracting visitors everyday and not just over the weekend. We have been quite successful in doing it in our TBSE outlets in Mumbai and Pune. Our aim is to replicate the same experience in other cities of India. We are immediately looking to expand in the Tier 1 cities but we also see a huge opportunity in Tier 2 cities like Indore, Nagpur, and others where the trend of eating out has been picking up rapidly. Outside India, we are looking at Dubai, London and Singapore, and will focus on expanding to these places by end of 2018.