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Food and Beverage 2014-02-27

'Retaining a guest is the major challenge in the industry'

An interview with Ramesh Gupta, F&B Manager, Meluha The Fern Group of Hotels, Mumbai.

By Deputy Features Editor
'Retaining a guest is the major challenge in the industry'

Talking to Restaurant India, Ramesh Gupta shares insights on the consumer spending trend, challenges in the F&B industry and also speaks about the latest themes followed by restaurants.

What is your take on the latest consumer spending trend?

The economy is slowing down which is making people aware of value for money products and offerings reason being they are more attracted to the restaurants or hotels which has more offers listed on their websites.

Why you think international food brands are coming more to India?

Indian economy was growing at a rate of 10 percent every year. The people here are now widely travelled, have tasted different foods and they want to have similar kind of menus in their own country. The restaurant chains in abroad realised that they have a clientele in India and they started coming to India catering to Indian customers.

Nowadays patrons in restaurants also want to learn about the ingredients being used in a food. How do you see this?  

We have added a line in the menus saying that if you are allergic to any mentioned ingredients in the menu card, please contact the server.  Thereafter the chefs will come and guide you accordingly.

What are the changes or innovation you have noticed recently in Indian restaurants?

Today competition among the restaurants has increased manifold. Earlier when a customer used to look for better quality and high-end services he used to visit a five star hotel but today the growth of the standalone restaurants have given a tough competition to this segment. And that’s the major reason that different hotel restaurants have started revising their menus, bringing a new standard and festivals to lure customers.

Tell us about your famous food festival ‘Gudri Bazar’?

The objective behind "Gudri Bazar' was to make Delhi's ‘Gudri Bazar’ come alive in Mumbai. The festival kick started recently and is going on till 2nd March. Gudri Bazar festival is all about ‘Dilli k Pakwaan’ from Chandni Chowk locality in Delhi. We have tried to incorporate the same theme in our festival displaying foods in Thela (cart) and making the decor according to it.

How do you think pop-up restaurants are beneficial?

Pop-up restaurants are the new culture in the food industry. Today people want to experiment, a single concept doesn’t work for longer time and that’s why the restaurants have started the pop-up culture or the micro events that are put up at temporary venues, for a few hours or few weeks where people collect as many experiences as possible.

What are the present day challenges of F&B industry?

Retaining a guest is the major challenge in the industry. The other issues are the cost and the efficient man power.

How do see the registration of food business operators as the licensing of food business operators (FBOs) has been made mandatory by the FSSAI?

This is a great move to bring certain standard in the F&B industry which was earlier not standardised. Earlier the municipalities were just involved with it but now there will be a centralised body that will standardise the product.

I think all the five star hotels were already following the regulation. Besides our hotel, many five star hotels like Renaissance Hotel, Taj Hotels, The Oberois, The Trident etc are already following the norm.

And what implications you see among the business owners? What is your advice to them?

The industry will become much more arranged and standardised. Everything will be systemised; you will have more liability. And you will be able to compete with the international brands who are already following these rules and that’s the reason foreign restaurant chains are a big hit in India.

Food and beverage industry is very vast; it is working 24x7. You have to like the job wholeheartedly because you are dealing with customers and you need to understand what their demand is and how you can incorporate those into your service is vital. 

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