'Indians demand authenticity'
'Indians demand authenticity'

In an interaction with Restaurant India, Manish Baheyti shares his excitement co-branding ‘Zerruco by Zilli’ and the operational strategies he has incorporated in the newly launched restaurant at Ashoka Hotel, New Delhi.

Tell us about your experience co- branding Zerruco by Zilli with Chef Zilli?

We wanted to position the restaurant giving an international edge so that the authenticity of cuisines be established . Co-branding a restaurant involves doing everything where the chef is the one who decides menu and involved with all the aspects of the kitchen designing.

What was the reason behind starting a hospitality consulting firm despite of the fact that you were having a bright professional career in the hotel industry?

I have an ancestral property in Rajasthan which I wanted to make a heritage hotel. Led by this dream, I left my job in Oberoi back in 2006. Hence I started working on my project and unfortunately the recession happened in 2008. The property is still there in Rajasthan and the project is still alive somewhere in the back of my mind. However, to make the hotel project a reality I had to start a hospitality company and eventually I did it. 

Tell us something about the evolution of Indian food Connoisseurs as you have been associated with the Indian F &B industry for over two decades?

Twenty four years ago when I started my career with Oberoi Group, at that time people were not much experimental. Then the most favourite cuisine used to be Indian, thereafter Chinese and Continental was the broad term used for all the cuisines from Europe. But as time evolved, the word ‘Continental’ stopped getting used and cuisines became country specifics which was a great evolution. People started talking about Spanish cuisine, Italian cuisine, French cuisine and much more and that is how the taste evolved. The term Continental Cuisines became more regional and then the world cuisines widely got introduced to the Indian market. The Thai Cuisine revolution happened in the mid ninety’s and Vietnamise and Japanese cuisines have marked a rapid growth in the last ten years. We can say that Indians today have travelled lot to different countries with the economy being an open economy and people started craving to taste the same cuisines back in their country.

From your 20 years of long experience what would you suggest on creating an effective restaurant business operation?

Engage the guest, listen what the guest’s feedback is and third is training. Take your patron’s feedback very seriously because they are the one who are telling you what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong. At the same time it is very important that service staff should be very well trained. It doesn't matter whether they are speaking English fluently or are speaking in the local language.

What is the reason behind failure of the restaurant chains in India?

There is no thumb rule for success in this industry yet you can minimise your risks and failures. Price could be one of the reasons for failure. For example, I feel expensive restaurants are prone to fail easily. People will not come to a restaurant if they don’t find value for money offerings. Second is inconsistency. If you give a good meal one day and a bad meal the other day, things will not work. Lastly, it is important to choose location wisely.  

What is your take on the ‘QSR creating a threat to the restaurants inside a hotel’?

Both the segments have different price points catering to different clientele and markets. The biggest advantage of QSR is that it has no dress code; the customer can walk in casual attire and they are mostly located on high streets.

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