Megha Agarwal, Founder, The Corner Courtyard (TCC), also a food enthusiast and traveller, quit her job to start her restaurant. Talking to Restaurant India, she shares the experience of starting a restaurant in India.
What made you open a restaurant cum boutique hotel?
I have always been a traveller and romantic at heart. I actively and consciously seek out speciality accommodation/boutique hotels with characters and cultures during my explorations. They enhance my experience and are invariably warmer and more inviting than regular hotel chains. After I quit my job in PwC as a consultant, I did some freelance work with boutique hotels to set up their systems better and help them position more strongly. This further reinforced my inclination towards boutique hotels. Starting up my own venture was a childhood dream and growing up I felt increasingly inclined towards the hospitality/service/entertainment sectors. In 2011, I secured admission in the Ritz Carlton institute for hospitality, where I decided to complete my second masters with hospitality focus learning. It was around the same time when TCC happened.
How has been the response for your restaurant in the last one year?
The response has been overwhelming. The reaction fortunately was enthusiastic, encouraging and appreciative for the design, food and the uniquely themed guest rooms. Our culinary experiments combine European and local flavours and an enthusiastic young team which takes customers’ feedback very seriously.
What are your expansion plans?
We plan to be the sort of brand that grows organically and from the culture of the place architecturally as well as retain that element on the menu, which makes it originally hand crafted for that place. However, expansion plans are underway. It is our dream and goal to be a multi continent brand.
Why did you launch a fine dining restaurant when QSR is booming in India?
TCC is an extremely organically derived and developed brand. It has a strong heritage and a character derived from 110 year old colonial era restored Bungalow. A restaurant housed in an old bungalow with inherent world charm requires a food offering befitting its unmatched ambience. The QSR model calls for a different kind of set up in infrastructure and logistics and to attain the same is a medium to long term goal. Quality for us is of utmost importance and we will work out a model whereby it is not compromised even in a QSR.
How have you designed your restaurant menu?
The Corner Courtyard (TCC) seeks to combine the myriad flavours of the city through different colours coupled with a world cuisine menu.
Who is your target customer?
Our target customer is all food and design enthusiasts. We have made a conscious effort to not alienate a particular category of guests. Our extensive menu based on globally trending comfort food serves the interests of several expats as well as locals across all age groups.
What is your unique marketing strategy? How do you position your brand through social media?
To a large extent, restaurant business is like movie business. When it opens, you kind of know whether you are a hit or a miss. This means that the greatest selling point becomes the product and consequently word of mouth. For the first few months, we all worked with a single minded focus on getting our product right and organically growing our customer base and reach simply through good reviews and recommendations. Even though we are present across the major social media networks, the real word is far more effective and consequential than the virtual.
How do you ensure the healthiness of food being served at your restaurant?
A full ingredient check is done by the stores team on a daily basis like expiry date, quality of ingredients, etc. Also the supplier has to be an approved supplier with all food compliant regulations in place. All the pre preparation like sauces, dips, vegetables, meat, etc is tasted for freshness and tasted by the chefs in advance.
What is the supply chain management process at your restaurant?
Our store keeper/purchase manager in association with the chef and department head of F&B work closely and have constant interaction with the suppliers/vendors to ensure that they are autonomous control check points and simultaneously, they are in harmony and sync with each other.