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Jan, 19 2010

Lebanese menu

Mirah Group is one of India’s leading business houses. Under its hospitality division the group boasts of the four-decade-old Rajdhani restaurant and the recently acquired Lebanese chain Falafel. In conversation with TFW, Gaurav Goenka discusses the resta

Mirah Group is one of India’s leading business houses. Under its hospitality division the group boasts of the four-decade-old Rajdhani restaurant and the recently acquired Lebanese chain Falafel. In conversation with TFW, Gaurav Goenka discusses the restaurant division’s plan to grow via acquiring some new brands and growing the present ones via franchise mode.

What are your plans to expand your restaurant brand portfolio?

We have the Rajdhani thali brand and the recently acquired Lebanese chain called Falafal and we are about to launch three of our own in-house brands. We are on the lookout for launching these brands and then we would be having 5-6 food retail brands under our portfolio. We will be launching them in the next quarter. Though all the plans and concepts are ready we are just looking for the right retail locations to launch them.

How many restaurants do you have for Falafel and how many more are you planning to open?

We have seven restaurants at present for Falafel. We just took it over a couple of months back so we are already in the expansion stage. We plan to open about 30 outlets of Falafel. The present seven restaurants for Falfafel are in Mumbai itself so we are looking at going to Pune and Bangalore.

What changes will you be bringing to Falafel to make it perform well in India?

Falafel’s menu and recipes are all very authentic. They were put by the Isareli promoters who started this concept and I do not want to change the taste but we will be adapting and introducing some new items to it. The traditional menu will remain the same but we will be bringing in some more variety. In the future you will see some more deserts coming in which were missing in the menu before. We are importing some products directly from Lebanon which was not done before. So you will see a remarkable upgradation of the brand which would happen gradually.

What are the expansion plans of Rajdhani? Which are the key markets for Rajdhani internationally?

For Rajdhani we have 47 restaurants, presently. Internationally we have one restaurant in Dubai and Oman each. We are looking at expanding in London, Singapore, New York, and Middle Eastern countries. Internationally, we go by the franchise route only because you need a local person who represents your brand there. And every country has different laws and rules so the local guys come as great help.

How do you think franchising can help in the growth of your company?

We have quite a number of franchisees in India also but majority of our outlets is owned by us. It is in a 80:20 ratio. But we are on the lookout for having more franchisees. Even for Falafel we would be looking for franchisees very soon. Rajdhani has a standard format but for Falafel I would first like to open my own outlets and then look at franchising.

Which are the retail formats for Rajdhani and Falafel?

Falafel is a QSR and Rajdhani is a sit-down restaurant. In Rajdhani we operate through kiosk as well as sit-down. And Falafel outlets are operational through kiosks. But we do have 10-12 seater formats for Falafel as well. Though Falafel was predominantly a kiosk, we are now developing a cart model which can be placed in high footfall areas like malls, airports and railway stations.

Which are your target cities for expansion for Rajdhani?

Rajdhani is into all the major cities. But now we are looking at tier II cities like Shirdi, Tirupathi, and Nandwara. These are places which attract huge amount of pilgrims and I do not see a good restaurant of our segment present there.

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