Food and beverage business in Tier 2 cities guarantees expansion and growth: Varun Behl
While talking about recent trends that are emerging in the hospitality sector, Varun believes that the major trends are robotics, food trucks, micro-restaurants, data analytics, quick services, and quick takeaways. It is no longer just a food business anymore. The way he looks at it, even though he puts technology at the center of his business, he remains connected to the traditions and culture of Rajasthan and lets it shine through his restaurants and flavours. The new restaurant he has opened at Hawa Mahal is one of the places that boasts the rich culture and splendor of Rajasthan while serving diverse flavours. We got up close and personal with him and spoke at length about everything from changing dynamics and upcoming trends to his own personal choices when it comes to dining out. Below is a portion of the conversation we had with him
Q. Please tell us about innovation in your menu keeping in view the evolving and emerging trends in India’s gastronomy?
Kebabs and Curries Company (KCCO) is known for its gravies and meats, predominantly. We like to keep our menu a good mix of crowd-pleasers and regional favourites. Our biggest focus is to keep the quality and the taste of the recipes, unchanged. For a brand like ours, guests and patrons invariably, love to come back again and again for a taste of the familiar. That said, we do experiment, making a spin on classic recipes and tastes. For example, take Keema Baati, the non- vegetarian spin on the much-loved Dal-Baati of Rajasthan. It’s been hot with our guests.
Q. Rajasthan has a rich heritage and culture. In what way does your brand reflect these characteristics?
Q. Your Plans for a franchise model or expansion beyond the current area of operations?
We are definitely keen to have a franchisee model, as we expand into other cities of India. For a homegrown brand like ours, we champion food and beverage entrepreneurship via the franchisee route. We have created strong SOPs for our franchise business, and definitely look at like-minded individuals and entrepreneurs who are willing to invest their money and mind, aligned to our brand values and ethos. Investors willing to talk to us about being a franchisee will get rock solid business plans, sales and marketing support and be part of the growth story of a well-known food and beverage brand. This year, hopefully in the last quarter we will go full throttle on scaling up our franchise model with more engagement and expansion.
Q. Any plans to launch kebab & Curry outside Rajasthan in the metro cities?
Q. How do you see the journey of your brand, different milestones, and achievements?
We are a homegrown brand, been in business for over 19 years now and we are looking at growth and expansion. This makes us stand out, and I’d like to focus on that. The pandemic was an eye-opener for us, as we were forced to make some changes in our business models and streamline our brands. Since late 2020, we have actively focused on building our media relations and brand exposure, through strategic PR and social media channels. I started writing a column for one of India’s best-known financial dailies, which has allowed me to express my ideas and passion for food and beverage entrepreneurship. We launched new brands – Rolls and Biryanis by KCCO, micro culinary concept – Baalti Bhar Ke powered by KCCO, launched the KCCO mobile app, aligned our digital media channels and won awards. On a personal front, being elected as a Fellow of IIHM and a member of ‘IIHM International College of Distinguished Fellows’ to mentor young minds in hospitality and entrepreneurship is a winning moment.
Q. How do you score over other brands in the same segment?
Q. What are the newest food and beverage trends?
The business environment stands altered forever, post-pandemic. The taste, preferences, and habits of people have undergone a change and as a business owner, I need to adjust my sails. Food and beverage post-pandemic, in inevitably tied to technology. This goes beyond food production or creating new flavours in a lab. Food and beverage today needs to be user friendly, and technologically adaptable to stay connected with its consumers. The major trends coming up are robotics, food trucks, micro eateries, data analytics and quick takeaways! It is no longer simply food business. Today, the term is food technology that drives the food business.
Q. What challenges does the F&B industry face in Tier 2 cities, and how are you planning to overcome them?
Tier 2 cities are the future of business. They are the places where growth, opportunity, and ambition are found aplenty. Tier 1 cities are expensive, the cost of doing business in Tier 1 cities is rather prohibitive, especially for brands that lack deep pockets. Food and beverage business in Tier 2 cities guarantees expansion and growth, at a much lesser cost though they need more strategic inputs and a constant watch on quality and manpower efficiency. We do have a strong set of business SOPs laid out – from central kitchen operations to calibrated recipes, training and development to branding support which ensures that our business partners do not have to start from ground up. They already have guidelines to begin with.
Q. What are your thoughts on sustainable and responsible business models?
Q. Your five recommendations for a food connoisseur in Jaipur or any other city?
b) The KCCO (Kebabs and Curries Company) outlet near Hawa Mahal is a must-visit. Hawa Mahal is quintessential Rajasthan and our dining outlet near this landmark is stunning to say the least. The decor is truly Rajasthani, colorful, and opulent. The service, was distinctly royal. The food, undoubtedly, is simply delicious. Soaking in the vibe, in the heart of the old city, and feasting on traditional recipes is a culinary experience, I highly recommend.
c) Rasgullas from Sodhani Sweets, Jaipur are simply delicious and have a flavor and softness to remember.
d) Ashok & Ashok’s mutton curry at Sadar Bazaar, Delhi is another fabulous meal to savor.
e) Aloo Tikkya at Laxmi Misthan Bhandar (LMB- Jaipur) is a long-standing favorite of locals and tourists alike in the old Pink city of Jaipur.