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With brands like Mamagoto, Dhaba, Sly Storys, Speedy Chow, Rollmaal and Celeste Food Services. Azure Hospitality has the vision to set the pace for the Indian restaurant and food segment. With outlets across all the major cities in the country and turnovers to match, its no wonder that this team is one of the top hospitality brands in the country.
IANSlife spoke with Managing Director of Azure Hospitality, Mr. Rahul Khanna who has played an intrinsic part in developing and managing the brand. After studying at the Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne, Switzerland, he has worked with The Mandarin Oriental and Jumeirah groups in London, Hong Kong, and Dubai respectively. With his expertise in conceptualizing design-oriented food and beverage outlets, we find out what it takes to stay ahead in the game.
Despite the competition, Mamagoto stands strong; do you think its because you had a first-mover advantage?
Khanna: In some ways, yes we did have a first-mover advantage in the space of Pan Asian cuisine in India. However, no matter how well-timed you are in this industry, what gives you staying power is consistent quality and customer experience.
Food prices are getting more democratic would you agree?
Khanna: I think this depends on the restaurant honestly! A lot of less quality-oriented places would price prawns at par with chicken, as the quality of prawn may not be the best. We always use fresh and quality ingredients so this is not the case with us. However, yes some fish like Basa are readily available so dishes that make use of it need not be astronomically priced.
There are always a few trends that propel F&B culture, what do you feel is trending and what do you think is next on the charts?
Khanna: I think the trend is towards personalization these days. People like feeling like they belong when they go out. Starbucks has mastered this to the tee when you see people lining up just to get their names on a cup (their quality is also consistently good). I think people want to feel at home when they eat out, so restaurants will serve as a natural extension of their safe space.
People are finding ordering in more economical and less of a hassle than cooking at home. Comment.
Khanna: I think this can be illustrated in my above statement. Ordering in nowadays is very convenient, there are good discounts given and the food arrives quick. However, nothing compares to excellent service and visiting a beautiful space, while enjoying your meal.
Do you think when it comes to catering, weddings are not the only big-ticket events, corporate events are equally important?
Khanna: Agreed. You also get more repeat customers this way.
What is the one lesson you've learned about the food business after spending so many years in it?
Khanna: Never lean on your achievements, always learn and grow more.
With so much competition what does it take to stay ahead in the game?
Khanna: It takes innovation, research, a willingness to please your customers and a great team.