In an exclusive conversation with Restaurant India, Chatterjee shares more about his business, expansion plans, differentiation strategy and expected turnover.
In 2003, the capital market analyst Siddhartha Chatterjee together with his four friends, including Siddharth Bose and filmmaker Goutam Gosh, invested Rs 25,000 each to start a chain of restaurant Bhojohori Manna in Kolkata. The restaurant serves a wide variety of home cooked Bengali cuisine.
The team named their restaurant after a famous Bengali song, from a film made in the 70’s, by the legendary Manna Dey. The track revolves around a magical cook, who travelled to many lands and acquired a unique culinary style of his own. As a child artist in 1979, Siddhartha Chatterjee had also played the role of Topshe in Satyajit Ray’s film Joi Baba Felunath: The Elephant God.
Why did you opt for the name – Bhojohori Manna?
I settled down for the name ‘Bhojohori Manna’ because the name has a quick recall value in terms of food. The Manna Dey’s song had an element of nostalgia with Bengali’s as such. In the beginning, we experimented with a small garage space at Ekdalia, Ballygunge, and Kolkata, which was taken on rent from an owner earlier running a snack bar.
How many outlets are you running? Are you planning to tap North Indian market as well?
We are present in almost all big cities of India. We have three chains in Mumbai, two in Bengaluru, one in Puri, and one in Silliguri. Delhi and Gurgaon are very much in our mind, but the problem of high cost of manpower and rentals in these places will hike the prices of our menu, which might not suit the pocket of every individual.
How are you planning to expand in the coming years?
We are concentrating more in Mumbai and we are also planning to launch QSR model in Kolkata. So, our consumption in 2015 will be limited to Mumbai and Kolkata only. We are also focused on other markets of India and have plans to explore them soon.
What are the numbers that you are targeting this year?
We are planning to open four more QSR’s in Kolkata and two in Mumbai. Moreover, in cities like Delhi and Gurgaon, we will be looking for good managers who can manage lesser cost of manpower, so that our menu prices are not impacted much.
Are you looking for a franchisee opportunity?
The franchisee model is in our mind, but as of now, we are not offering any franchise. Moreover, we would like to send our cooking team to get the production done in our own style because we can’t compromise with the food quality and taste. So the production department will be managed by us only, rest other things need to be managed by the franchisee.
Who are some of the investors in your venture?
We are five partners together running the business. The business is funded by all five of us. Neither we are seeking, nor do we have any external investment from any individual or group.
What is the current turnover of the company?
We should reach around Rs 23 crore mark by the end of the year 2015.
What unique strategies you follow to differentiate yourself from other restaurants?
Despite using the top quality inputs, we have designed our pricing in such a way that the customer finds it a ‘value-for-money’ product. We believe in pricing the food according to its cost and not on the name of the brand.