"Don't Open Restaurants for Glamour," Says Vikrant Batra of Cafe Delhi Heights

At the sidelines of the launch of Café Delhi Heights’ new menu, Vikrant Batra, Founder of Café Delhi Heights talked to Kritika Agrawal of Restaurant India about this plans to take this brand abroad, what are the success points of running a restaurant business, how does he differentiate his offerings from others and a lot more. 

Edited excerpts: 

What is the concept of Café Delhi Heights? 

It is definitely a café and not a restaurant. The word is very important because it has a concept of café, which largely means casual dining. It is a casual dining place and is very welcoming. And when you say something is welcoming, it means it has no boundaries. 

It’s a playful place, and the most important key point of this concept is that it serves the most desirable menu. It caters to the needs of all the possible cuisines and all the possible age groups. 

We know that the cloud kitchens are making big in the market and are creating disruption in the restaurant industry. Do you see this as a threat for restaurants like you or do you see in coming years, there will be a need for restaurants to tweak their strategies according to it? 

No, I don’t see this as a threat. People will only want to order or eat at home when they're not looking for experience. When they come to restaurants or cafes, they get services, Fresh hot food, music and the overall experience. So I don’t see any competition between the cloud kitchens, restaurants and cafes. If you want our Juicy Lucy burger and pan fried noodles, you can order it from our outlets. However, we don’t go deep into discounting with our deliveries. 

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What are the food trends you're observing these days?

I see a lot of talk on vegetarianism right now.  Not veganism because it is still a very small market. Since the last nine years, I have seen that the percentage of vegetarians has grown.

You opened your first outlet in 2011in Gurgaon and since then, there have been a lot of cafes and restaurants opening up and the competition is so high. How do you differentiate your offerings? 

The biggest competition I feel is within myself. How do I manage to do that is keep on changing my menus every three to four months. If you are able to give people new, and a familiar new then people will definitely come to you. We just want to make sure that people still keep coming four times a week to us. 

According to you what makes a restaurant successful?

The most important things are your quality of food and the value for money. Another critical thing is how you manage your fixed expenses. So, rentals are the biggest thing. Don't open restaurants for glamour and don't get desperate for a location. Don't sign a restaurant to pat heavy rentals; you have to be really smart in that. Everything can fall in place but if your food is not good, it won’t help. 

When you get a place at a very cheap rental and if the food is not good, it will still bleed. Similarly, if you get a prime location but your food is not good then it won’t run successfully. The most important thing is great food and great food only.

What are the challenges a restaurateur faces while running a restaurant business?  

I would say the government’s support. The licensing has to be easy. The government support has to come and there should be single window licenses. The norms have to be realistic and practical. There are a few norms in the government’s policies, which we are not comfortable with in running the restaurant business.

You said that you have plans to open up restaurants in small and larger formats second and also in railways, If you could elaborate more on this? 

We are definitely coming up with that. we're coming up with smaller formats. The product is almost ready to be launched very soon. It will be very price friendly. The portions will not be very big, but it will be a great value for money. It will be in locations where price sensitivity is important but people still want to have great food. We will start from Delhi and will eventually go Pan India. 

How much time does an outlet of Café Delhi Heights take to break even?

The first outlet when I opened in 2011, it took me 15 months to break even. 

How are you planning to expand this brand?

We’re opening seven more outlets and the next 45 days. We are also going abroad with this brand and it is almost on the talks of closure. 


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