In an exclusive interview with Restaurant India, Dharmesh Karmokar (Partner and F&B Director- Lume, Hotel Aureole), talks about his journey in the world of food.
Aureole is a cosy boutique space in Andheri East, which serves s busy travellers with comfort and 'almost home' experience. Operated and managed by Dharmesh Karmokar from United Facets Hospitality that has crested and built brands like Nom Nom, Silver Beach Cafe and various other restaurant and hotel projects, Aureole has giving foodies a new delight to celebrate at their restaurant ‘Lume’..
How difficult or easy it was for you to run a restaurant under a boutique hotel?
Ours is a Concept Business Hotel, and we like to treat our restaurant as an independent identity. If we do not do that, the restaurant will be lost in the nuances of running the hotel. Therefore, our restaurant works independently. It can get difficult to run the restaurant in a hotel if you treat it as an outlet only.. Therefore, for us it is a level playing field, and we face the same challenges that a standalone restaurant has.
How is the response so far? How much does it contribute in the overall business?
Initially it was unknown, but then we decided to advertise on Zomato and be ensured we did not mention Aureole Hotel, but focused on our restaurant’ Lume’ . The response is now picking up. And it definitely contributes to a large extent; we internally also ensure that the complimentary breakfast is revenue to the restaurant from the rooms division.
Tell us about your journey in the hospitality business?
A pass out from IHMCTAN (Dadar Catering College) 1992 batch, I saw my life looking after guests and made 'wine and dine' my business. I guess it was the pursuit for perfection which every successful hospitality professional exuberates attracted me to this industry.
What according to you will be the trend that will drive the industry in 2016?
One word answer- Innovation. With the advent to the plethora of access to information, the coming years will be all about innovation as India has just begun to climb the first ladder towards becoming a developed nation. Smart work, customer service etc should be focused, innovate and you will be rewarded. And in the process create Brands for India.
I believe operating a restaurant is one of the toughest jobs when it comes to handling a business. What are the three important lessons you would like to share with young entrepreneurs?
If you have decided to be hospitality professional, you must be passionate, because without this quality you cannot be in this industry. If you are passionate then you are an emotional person, therefore
-Ensure you keep your decision making process without emotions, never take a decision in haste, and take your time
-Keep meeting people and keep visiting restaurants, it’s very important to know your market which is ever so changing.
-learn to handle people, this is a people’s business, your team is not a cost it is your asset. Hospitality Industry should change to Human Resource Asset from Human Resource Expense
Fine dining catches a very small part of the crowd. What growth do you see from this segment?
We see the lines of segmentation dissolving, the proof is that it is now not money which gives you great experience, people who spend less money are having a better experience, than people who go to the typical standard fine dine restaurants. The premium segment is bored of the cliché - fine dine, they want newer experiences and are willing to take the risks as they are bored of the fine dine restaurants who are providing very typical boring predictable experiences. Therefore fine dining has moved to experiential dining. And the cool affluent segment is willing to experiment.
What is your expansion plan? Are you also open to other formats?
Yes, we have expansion plan, we will be opening another hotel in Goregaon East , and our approach to the market is to find the gap and place our product there. Being market savvy helps. And lastly this business is always about location location location.
We see many concept based restaurants hitting Mumbai. Can we see one coming from you?
Surely, our chefs are working on the menu and we will be announcing very exciting news in the near future (April 2016).