Food beverage Jan, 13 2010

Southern sizzlers

The popularity and success of south Indian cuisine is touching new heights and dimensions with each passing day. The credit for this growth goes to franchising. Franchising has made the expansion of south Indian food possible not only pan Indian but inter

By Shivani Varma
Southern sizzlers

South Indian cuisine has always been popular for its distinctive taste and has gained huge popularity across the globe. Moreover, south Indian culinary could be traced as ‘fusion food’. Now you can find American Chopsuey, spring rolls, Capsicum Schezwan, Chinese delight, American delight wrapped in dosa. The best feel of cross cultural effect, if not anywhere else, can be experienced while making a choice of having any south Indian dish. With franchising delightful delicacies of south India is gaining footprints across the country. Commenting on the success of his most popular south Indian food chain, Jayaram Banan, Chairman of Sagar Ratna says, “Our franchise concept was conceived in the year 1999 when we opened our first franchise outlet at the Hotel Maharaja Regency, Ludhiana in the year 1999. Presently we have more than 28 franchised outlets and this number is increasing continuously. This can decipher the role of franchising in our success.”

Cheap and healthy

Popularity of south Indian cuisine is due to its exceptional cooking style. Being driven by fast food market, we cannot deny the fact that people have become health conscious. Before buying any eatables, they would like to have a look on its calorie count and, this is where this niche segment finds its market. “South Indian dishes have very less fat and are less oily. Along with it, we serve moderately spicy food,” says Jayaram Banan. Citing the example of Chhole-Bhature, Vikash Goenka of Mr and Mrs Idly says, “Unlike North Indian cuisine, it is very healthy, light, low fat and low calorie”. Other reason for its recognition is price. “It is cost-effective. As compared to other dishes, these are very reasonably priced,” he adds.

Going abroad

Known for its traditional presentation and sophisticated cooking method, south Indian cuisine has started gaining admiration even in the International field. Usage of coconut, coconut oil, coconut milk, fresh coconut, dry coconut, curry leaves, herbs and various other spices add flavour and different aura to its tastes. “South Indian cuisine can easily be sold abroad. People from Kerala and Andhra Pradesh are prominently moving towards South East Asian countries, which is giving rise to its demand,” says Goenka. Dosa is famous everywhere. Apart from this, other dishes which are famous from the house of Sagar Ratna are Dahi Vada, Idli and south Indian Thali. “We modify our menu according to the market taste. One of the most sought after dishes liked in foreign countries are idli, as it is a steamed item,” says Banan”.

Being a niche segment of Indian cuisine, south India restaurant business is flourishing and competing well with other restaurants catering to other segments of food. Sagar Ratna, BonSouth, South Indies, Mr and Mrs Idly, Dosa Plaza is some of the best examples that can be cited from this sector.


The challenges faced while franchising a south Indian cuisine are manpower, risk and false expectations. Adding views to the challenges, Goenka says, “Getting the manpower is the only issue in this south Indian cuisine”. False expectation is referred to the expectation from the franchisee’s side. Although this cuisine has become very famous all over the country, still a franchisee can not expect his instant success. Like any other business, this business also requires tremendous time, investment and industry performance in that particular locality. Patience could act as a success mantra for franchisors and franchisees involved in this sector.

Traditional v/s Modern

Breaking the geographical boundary of Chennai, Dosa is growing in its size and gaining equal popularity in different markets. Franchisors are adopting various business strategies to attract the customers of different nature. Some of the companies believe in traditional presentation of their product while some believes in international presentation. “We believe in traditional presentation. This is the reason for serving Sagar Ratna’s food in steel plates and bowls instead of bone-china and melamines,” opines Banan. On the other hand, Mr and Mrs Idly believe in international presentation.

Resolution 2010

Despite different challenges, south Indian cuisine segment had beefed up to grab a bigger slice of food and beverages sector. Now the franchisors are looking forward with new resolutions for 2010 to expand their business. “Slowdown period is over and 2010 is going to be a good year for us. At present we have 54 outlets, including one in Singapore. And in another two months, we are opening outlets in Canada and Bangkok,” says Banan. “Today, we have 50 outlets across the country and in the coming year, we are planning to spread our wings across Mumbai and Gujarat. We are also planning to take our business to Iran, somewhere between April-May,” reveals Goenka. Billionsmiles has three outlets in Bangalore and very soon it is planning to open its outlets in Pune and Hyderabad. The company plans to take its number to 80-100 outlets in the coming eight to 10 years. Capital required for Biliionsmiles’s franchise is Rs. 1.5 crore. As far as the requirements for owning the franchise of Sagar Ratna is concerned, an aspiring Indian franchisee of Sagar Ratna should possess a total area of 4000 sq. ft, while for other countries it is 50,000 sq. ft Mr and Mrs Idly demands for 500 sq. ft of area with the capital investment of Rs 6 lakh.

Related: Creating healthy wealthy franchisees

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