In conversation with Restaurant India, Sanjoli Agarwal, Owner, The J Café Surat talks about her transitional journey from the fashion industry to the food industry.
Born and brought up in Mumbai, Sanjoli persuaded BMS after completing her higher study. Having a great fashion sense, she worked with Shoppers Stop before owning a venture of her own. Excerpts from the interview:
How did the idea of stepping into the food business come to you?
The J Café is a Mumbai based franchise. Initially, it only had one outlet in entire India which was situated in Churchgate, Mumbai. Whenever asked for fries from the brand they usually ask for extra mayonnaise with their product. But the first time when I tried asking for more mayonnaise, they just poured an immense amount of that in my fries. I got married and shifted to Surat where I found that the market has immense to offer to people who wish to invest. That’s how I came up with an idea of stepping into the food business.
What was your contribution in designing the interiors of your café?
The J franchise has a very good team. They are very headstrong which ultimately makes them do whatever they want. However, they don’t completely neglect your opinion but most of the decisions lie in their hands only.
What is your take on the word of mouth marketing?
Word of mouth is really helpful as it helps a brand to create awareness and image among customers smoothly. I have also seen people come to my place trying various cuisines and later sharing their experiences with their friends and families.
What are the varieties of products which are being served at The J Café?
Our menu is very short. We serve two things--- fresh fries and milkshakes and can guarantee that the variety we serve can’t be found anywhere else in Surat. Many competitors have already copied our products but still, they are lacking behind in terms of quality and taste. The quality of our fresh fries and milkshake is our USP.
How are you serving healthy yet delicious food?
We don’t get our raw materials from the chain factory. We are having a live counter where the potatoes are being peeled off in front of the people which simply states that we are focused on being transparent when it’s about the health and nutritional aspect of food. Cleanliness and hygiene is something which we try to provide to our customers along with our mouth-watering products.
What are the various kinds of challenges you face while being in this industry?
There are challenges everywhere. The first problem which comes to my mind is the distributors. Importing of fresh raw materials for our venue is another challenge which we face on a regular basis. Secondly, within a kilometer area, there is a number of establishments which have become our competitors. They have started serving the same thing which I serve here at my café so we have to maintain the quality factor.
What is your expansion plan?
We are looking forward towards opening two more outlets in Surat as it's not a very big city. I personally think that other two outlets will work great for us spreading our presence in the food market.