Crepe Station Cafe, a company that aims to anticipate and respond to the changing needs of the customers, employees, and system requirements through constant evolution and innovation. In an interview, Ravi Sharma, Director, Crepe Station Cafe shares the success story of the company and its future plans.
Ramanjit Kaur (RK): Shed some light on the origin, growth and success of Crepe Station Café?
Ravi Sharma (RS): Crepe Station Café was conceptualised in 2003 by Nicolo Morea, a graduate from Les Roches in Switzerland. Nicolo with many years of experience in Food and Beverage industries in major European cities, and major landmark institutions came back to offer new cuisines and newer culinary delights. Crepe Station Café opened its first outlet in the heart of western Mumbai suburbs- Bandra/Khar. In the end of 2007 we joined as partners in Crepe Station. Our family has been in the hotel and restaurant industry for over 30 years in Mumbai, Lausanne & Naples. Since joining Crepe, we have opened in Mumbai, Kolkata, and Chandigarh.
RK: What is Crepe Station Café all about? What kind of services it offers?
RS: At Crepe Station, we believe that the tradition of sharing food, drink and conversation is one of life's greatest pleasures. Crepe Station is about eating healthy food, joie de vivre, social interaction, and creating communities. Healthy and superior quality food is served young, and with lot of warmth. Great emphasis is placed on creating the right ambience and atmosphere.
RK: What inspired Crepe Station Café to take the franchise route to expand the business in India?
RS: We receive enquiries for franchise from all parts of India and around the globe – Canada, Dubai, London, Kuwait, and Australia. As of now, we have not expanded outside India. The franchise route is one of the easiest and fastest methods for expansion and enables you to increase your brand presence nationwide and in other place away from the brand base. Franchising is the best option as it involves minimal capital and risk for the franchisor, obviously bearing in mind that the franchisor has to perform also.
RK: What are the eligibility criteria for selecting the franchisees of your company?
RS: For a franchisee, we obviously look at the education, professional qualification and family background. Also, we have to be convinced that the franchisee will be able to correctly follow the crepe station’s rules, guidelines and systems. He/she should not in way de-value our brand image.
RK: How many franchised outlets do you presently have? What are the target locations to expand the brand?
RS: Currently, we have a franchised outlet in Fort, south Mumbai, Chandigarh and Lokhandwala. We have just started with a new outlet in Lokhandwala along with Hiten and Gauri Tejwani called Barcode 053. We are planning to expand in Pune, Bengaluru, New Delhi, Chennai and Surat.
RK: What kind of training and support does a franchisee get after partnering with your company?
RS: All franchisees engage in an intensive training programme at outlets and at the office. The office training teaches them about the administrative side of the business – reporting systems, accounting, paperwork, and training manuals etc. We provide all the systems to the franchisee – reporting system, salary structures, menu planning, marketing/branding support, IT support, promotion/event support, financial planning support, human resource support (staff planning, hiring and recruiting, appraisals). We have built a network so that reports from all outlets come via email to the head office. Our area manager visits each franchisee outlet once or twice a week and prepares a detailed report on the outlet performance – from service to kitchen performance, guests’ feedback, repair, and maintenance issues. All of this is brought to the notice of the concerned department and immediate actions would be taken to resolve the issue.
RK: Have you faced any challenges while establishing your business? If yes, what were they and how did you overcome those challenges?
RS: There is no fun in working if there are no challenges. Challenges always exist, especially whilst trying for expanding and building new brands. But as long as you have the right offering, the right ambience at the right price and location, the challenges will be easily overcome.
RK: Any advice for the young entrepreneurs?
RS: Most people think that running a restaurant is very easy but it is far from the fact. It requires lot of attention to details and requires you to be very active. Therefore, before opening a restaurant, it is important to carefully consider the location, your offering, and what is going to be your USP. Once the initially challenges are crossed and your brand is built the journey becomes much easier.
RK: What are the future plans of the company in terms of expansion through franchising?
RS: We are currently focusing on our latest brand – Barcode 053. We are looking at expanding both crepe station and barcode. Barcode would be coming up next in south Mumbai – Barcode 101. Crepe Station is further looking for expansion outside Mumbai and the capital city very soon.