In an interaction with Restaurant India Dhruv Lamba, Executive Director, Kwality Group of Restaurants talks about adoption of technology in keeping ahead of the game and overcoming all the losses due to the pandemic.
Dhruv Lamba is the 3rd generation leader in the family business that was started by
his grandfather Peshori Lal Lamba 60 years ago when he first opened the Kwality restaurant in Connaught Place. Today, Kwality Restaurants has become a name synonymous with north Indian cuisine. A Bachelor’s in Business Administration from Les Roche, Switzerland, he has taken on the task of streamlining all company functions and re-organizing company cadres to implement best business practices within the company. He has also setup a bakery café Bread & More few years back and since then there is no looking back. Excerpts from the interview:
How it all began?
When we launched Bread & More, we had spread out too fast. Eventually, we realized that the segment is too niche and it’s a specialized industry. So we decided to consolidate. We are not a mass brand, we developed our USP and narrowed it down to the target audience we wanted to cater to. We select the areas where we know the people will understand the brand and products. With over 80yr of legacy and history in the food business, Kwality has expanded and multiple restaurants across segment. It operates 17 restaurants and retail ventures including two in London.
Running a restaurant business is not everyone’s cup of tea if we look at the numbers of closures, you being a 3rd GEN restaurateur what changes you have done to your restaurants?
The hospitality business runs in the family’s blood. Started by my grandfather, then my father, and then was passed on to me and my brother. It has been in our DNA. We knew we had to manage our family business and we have been excited about it since our childhood. My brother went to Cornell and I went to Les Roches which are the best hospitality schools. We knew that we had to take it forward and excel in it. Over the years, there have been many changes that we introduced to our restaurants. Technology has really made things easy for us. From the administration level to maintaining stock it has made our lives easy. We can monitor things easily sitting at any corner of the world. Various systems like SAP, POS are all integrated into our main software to keep a check on sales, raw materials, inventory, etc. With everything sorted, we can then focus on expansion and running the business smoothly.
Delivery as a game changer
During the pandemic, there has been complete lockdown and no one was coming out. Our delivery business took a boom and it has really helped us sustain in this tough time. Dine-in has really picked up in these last 2-3 months and we are making sure that we are following all precautionary measures, maintaining distance between tables, testing our staff every 10 days. People are very cautious after the second wave as it created a lot of havoc. They do ask for vaccination certificates and notice what the entire restaurant is doing in terms of their customer safety. Our clientele has a trust factor in the brand and has been loyal to us for a long time.
Talk to us about Bread & More. How has the bakery industry changed in the last 20 years?
The trend is changing in terms of preferences; people have become more aware and are health conscious. They have a better understanding of ingredients and expect transparency about what goes into the product. The terms, gluten-free, sugar-free are understood well. The demand for sourdough and sugar-free products has gone up as our customers are knowledgeable and have product understanding.
From normal bakery products to the sourdough revolution, customers are now looking for value products. Tell us something about innovation you have done at Bread & More.
Due to the constant demand and increase in awareness, we have been working on different varieties. Sourdough bread has been our best-seller even before the pandemic. Our breads are made in special stone ovens and we pay attention to customer’s feedback and their trust in our brand.
Riding on loyalty
Our target is our loyal customers. We make sure that our service is always on point and there is consistency. But, after the second wave, we have seen new customers who had never come to our restaurant before. This is also because of the number of restaurants that have shut down in the vicinity, especially Connaught Place.
What’s the average footfall vs online orders you do on an average?
Our restaurants are dependent on dine-in, delivery, and takeaways. On average, Kwality has 94% sales of dine-in and 6% of takeaway. Similarly, Gaylord Bombay 82% on dine-in and 18% delivery & parcel whereas Bread & More sales are divided as 50% dine-in and 50% delivery & takeaway. With so much home delivery demand, we have been supplying our products through Milkbasket and Dotpe.
Bakery trend to look forward
There has been a demand for a specific product line- Cakes. We have been getting a lot of orders for cakes. People are celebrating more now and things are going back to normal. People are paying more for their daily bread. Sourdough sales have really boomed over the last 2 years. We have introduced 8 bite-size desserts which are healthy and delicious. Nobody wants to consume 300 calories for desserts. With healthy ingredients like dark chocolate, fruits, and nuts, we have made having desserts healthy. Also, we have a range of gluten-free, sugar-free cookies, biscottis, and cakes which are our best sellers.
What’s your expansion plan?
We are looking for a large online structure. The cost of the store model is quite high. The rents and operational costs can be a big concern for every brand. Online channels have more reach and we want to reach every part of the city with the right distribution channels.