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K Hospitality: The Great Homecoming!

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The Indian food service giant, K. Hospitality Corp consolidates its legacy ‘undivided-India-inspired’ flavours, and gears up to set the world afire with its new platform – Charcoal Concepts! To open a new restaurant every month under the new platform.

K Hospitality Corp which was founded in 1972 with a single Indian restaurant in Mumbai, today spans a 400+ diverse outlets portfolio of food service concepts across travel F&B retail, lifestyle F&B retail, as well as banquet catering and mall F&B management; and is widely regarded as one of the biggest home-grown success stories in the sector. Karan Kapur, a young, dynamic third-generation entrepreneur, who currently heads the Hospitality and Food Services verticals of K Hospitality Corp., shares his thoughts on the group’s current key focus area – the growth and positioning of the Indian cuisine platform vehicle of K Hospitality Corp.

Please take us through the journey of your company.

K Hospitality Corp was founded in 1972 by the late JK Kapur, with a single Indian restaurant in Mumbai. Over the past nearly five decades, the organization has grown into a big hospitality and food service organization with 6,000 employees and a footprint of 400+ outlets across 19 cities in India. K Hospitality Corp currently operates across diversified verticals in the F&B industry spanning – travel retail, restaurants, bars, cafes, food courts, banqueting & outdoor catering, large scale F&B venues, concession management and corporate food services. It has proudly served over 26 million people last year.

Tell us about your new Charcoal Concepts F&B platform.
Charcoal Concepts was founded by K Hospitality Corp in 2018 as its Indian cuisine platform vehicle to take Indian flavours to the world. Under Charcoal Concepts, there are three distinct categories:

Contemporary Restaurants: Copper Chimney which was launched in 1972 is the leading, contemporary Indian restaurant brand, serving flavours, ingredients and dishes with influences from the Undivided North of India. Experimental Bars & Eateries: These can be seen in the form of Bombay Brasserie, an eclectic and innovative all-day bar and eatery, leading the evolution of Indian cuisine; and Bombay Borough, its international counterpart. Fast Casual/Delivery: These will be seen via our soon-to-be launched brand Tamarind Tiger, a strategic global foray into the Indian fast casual market.

Charcoal Concepts is also launching new Indian and Indian inspired formats such as Punkah House (launching in India), Gully Kitchen (launching in the UAE) and Street Club (launching in India), which will all roll out over the coming year.

Could you please elucidate upon the expansion plans for your brands?
With significant investments, Charcoal Concepts is focused on taking Indian cuisine global. We’re aiming to introduce patrons to our award-winning range of distinctive recipes, flavors and concepts both in India and abroad.

As part of our growth strategy, Charcoal Concepts recently acquired all the previously franchised Copper Chimney outlets from the Everstone Capital owned Pan India Food Solutions (erstwhile Blue Foods), and has rebranded and launched these under the Charcoal Concepts umbrella to great success.

We’re currently aiming to consolidate our leadership position and scale across India, the Middle East and the UK. The brand is scaling up fast and is on track for opening a restaurant each month this coming year.

Can you elaborate a bit more upon the idea behind the recent acquisition of all franchised units of Copper Chimney?
The franchise buy-back of Copper Chimney is reflective of K Hospitality’s and, in turn, Charcoal Concept’s aggressive growth and expansion strategy to take Indian cuisine to global audiences. We are doing this by building on Copper Chimney’s leading position in the contemporary Indian cuisine space in the country.

We have already implemented several innovations through investments in food, design, and in teams, to introduce our patrons to the award-winning range of distinctive recipes and flavours, as well as, going forward, a brand-new experience at Copper Chimney outlets.

The results are visible and very encouraging as we now plan to extend the strategy to new outlets in India and abroad, under this new Charcoal Concepts business vertical.

What factors do you keep in mind while deciding the menu in your restaurants?
Our menus are first-of-all designed keeping in mind our customers, and we follow that key focus up with a thorough look at distinctive flavours, consistency, diversity of palates, and many other new steps forward for the cuisine. We further chase this up with rigorous back-end processes to ensure the menu fits into the operating model for each brand.

What are the challenges of the organized restaurant industry in India? How can they be resolved through the NRAI?

The organized restaurant industry is going through a transition phase and it will continue to do so over the next few years as the impact of the new tax regime slowly flows down. We do see rentals coming down in the next few years which will enable a more sustainable platform for restaurant operators in the future.

NRAI has helped tackle licensing and other governmental changes through an organized platform to represent the industry, and we are happy to be core committee members through our parent company, K Hospitality Corp.

What has been your one major learning as a restaurateur?
My answer to this has kept evolving over the years, however if I must point out one thing then I think the important piece is to keep learning from the best and adapting as your business grows; from a single restaurant, to a few restaurants, to a national chain, and finally a global business.

A piece of advice you would like to give to budding entrepreneurs eager to make a mark in this industry.
Food service is an amazing business with amazing people. My advice would be to do your research to understand the business model from as many people as possible before you jump in. Persistence counts; if you don’t love the industry, don’t jump into it. But, if you do, then dive with both hands in!

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