In an exclusive interview with Restaurant India, Sushanta Sengupta- Chef and Partner at 6 Ballygunge Place talks about their expansion plans.
Started out of the need to serve Bengali cuisine in a five star environment, Savourites Hospitality has grown to six restaurants and a vast catering business in all these years. The idea came when three friends Sushanta Sengupta, S Ramani and Aninda Palit working at The Park Hotel Kolkata realised that there was no proper restaurant to serve Bengali cuisine in Kolkata when an outsider looks for an option. After a thorough research into cook books spanning different eras, including Thakurbarir khabar or books by Pragya Devi Sundari, Savourites came up with its hallmark restaurant, 6 Ballygunge Place, at a bungalow in Ballygunge. The old world charm in architecture and minimalist décor of the 100 year old property was retained, and coupled with exquisite food, this 84 seater restaurant soon became preferred destination for connoisseurs in the city.
How it all began?
It was during our stint with The Park hotel that we decided to do something of our own and that’s how 6 Ballygunge Place was born. Most of the five star hotels that caters to tourist asked for local cuisines in Kolkata but the city didn’t have a good place which could really showcase the regional cuisine. There used to be an occasional festival in hotels during Puja or Poila baisakh but the cuisine was never represented. That’s how we came up with restaurant because I was the chef where I used to serve oriental food and I always used to find that guests asks for Bengali food as oriental food was available throughout India. The business was started in 1998 and our restaurant 6 Ballygunge place was started of in 2002. Initially, we were an office lunch provider company and still we do corporate lunches. Our main business focus lies in catering including both outdoor and corporate catering and restaurants.
Why 6 Ballygunge Place?
The restaurant was started in 2002 renting a 100 year old property in Ballygunge and the address of the building was 6 Ballygunge. So, we thought of giving the same name to the restaurant so that people can recall it. The Ballygunge was so unique to whole Calcutta because this address is only there in Calcutta. Somehow, that has clicked for us because we liked the idea on a restaurant naming after the address.
We were apprehensive at the beginning as Kolkata was not a touristic location apart from little business crowd that the city gets. First two years we used to have a Bengali section and also continental section- the old age concept. After running for two years we came to know that the consumption for Bengali food was much more and hence we removed the continental section. Today, we are leading caterer in terms of Bengali social caterers and corporate caterers in Kolkata.
We are already running six restaurants- five in Kolkata and one in Guwahati. We also manages the entire food court at Acropolis Mall where we are doing ‘6 Ballygunge Place Gupshup’ serving snacks, tea and quick bites from the region, The Wall Express to sell Chinese food in the food court, a small outlet called ‘Mughalsarai’ selling Kebabs and Lucknowi kind of food, and a veg kitchen which comprises of juices and veg meals. “Bengali foods more or less represent entire of the east,” shares Sengupta who is looking at Hyderabad, Mumbai, Delhi and Bhubhaneshwar to open their next outlet.
Catering is big
The catering is the bigger business in terms of the revenue. We almost do 50% of the catering in the market share in our range of Rs 750-950 per plate. We cater to around 6000 people in a day. We are almost like an industry when it comes to catering.
Trading on number
6 Ballygunge Place has a phenomenal footfall. On an average we do 60 lacs in a month. We are 155 covers restaurants plus the banquet which cater to 100-150 people. Similarly, in Salt Lake we have 78 covers restaurants. We are catering company coming to restaurant business.
Marketing it right
We are very serious about marketing, building brand and hence we involve all kind of marketing and advertising platform. The most important thing we have realised in this business is how to fix quality as there is no better marketing than what the food could do.