An interaction with Chef Deepa Awchat, MasterChef, Goa Portuguesa.
Goa Portuguesa, a well known restaurant in central Mumbai, is increasingly expanding its presence via the franchising model. In a candid conversation, Deepa Awchat, Master Chef, Goa Portuguesa, shared their menu strategy along with their business strategy.
What inspired you to set up Goa Portuguesa? How do you decide your menu?
My husband and I shared a passion for Goan food and to meet people, and we were keen to set up a restaurant. We had the necessary space and with the assistance of bank loans, we set up this restaurant in late ’88.
I would also like to highlight that the recipes and spices utilised at our outlets are standarised and each of our chefs is aware of our standard operating procedures. In addition, we avoid utilising frozen raw materials, artificial colours and preservatives, amongst others in our food preparations.
Kindly share your views on menu ‘engineering’ and its implications?
We evaluate from time to time customer preferences for various dishes we offer and our profitability. Several popular Goan dishes are well known to the wider community and we also offer them to our patrons. However, at regular intervals we also introduce ‘less popular’ Goan dishes with suitable modifications to suit the palette of our customers and measure its success, in terms of orders received and profits.
You are increasingly evaluating the franchising model for expansion. Why?
The patrons at our restaurant often include those from the distant suburbs of Mumbai. We had also received franchising offers from entrepreneurs in Thane and Chennai, and it enabled us to expand to these locations, too.
Our team also works with franchisees and trains them in the various aspects of food preparation, serving and allied operational support. In addition, we also conduct audits of these franchised outlets and ensure adherence to our standards.
Kindly highlight the key trends in consumer spending?
Dining out has certainly become more popular, given a larger proportion of younger professionals in our workforce.
As a result, restaurants that offer cuisines including Chinese, Thai, Lebanese and regional Indian variety, amongst others, have become popular. In addition, various social media websites offer word-of-mouth recommendations and it helps patrons to easily select a restaurant and cuisine.
However, in the current downturn, the emphasis is on value for money, and restaurants are appropriately offering a range of dishes.
Kindly elaborate on the dishes you are planning to add to your menu, shortly?
We have been introducing various dishes from time to time to our menu, in tune with the broader changes of the palatte of Goan consumers. We offer various popular Goan cuisines at our restaurant, as well as introduce traditional dishes from time to time, and depending on the feedback received, we make suitable changes.
How do you create an appropriate ambiance at your restaurant?
We are a fine dining restaurant which offers Goan food along with live music from a bungalow which broadly reflects our cultural heritage.
As part of that strategy, the interiors of our restaurant reflect our rich history and include paintings from Mario Miranda, along with colourful lamps, doors with stained glass and arched windows, amongst others. Apart from that, our well trained staff also helps customers feel welcome at our restaurant.