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On the platter

Opening a restaurant and running it is a fun job that demands slogging, constant attention and dedication, Phorum Pandya reports

Mouth-watering food always sells. A great ambiance and cordial staff is all you need to keep your customers coming back for more. Young entrepreneurs tell you what it takes to start an eatery of your own:

Nicolo Morea (37),
founder of Crepe Station
“I studied hotel management in Switzerland for four years and spent another eleven years in Germany, France and other European countries working at restaurants first to gain experience and opening restaurants of my own.
In 2000, I came to India for a holiday and my brother Dino suggested we open a restaurant in Mumbai. The café concept was missing here. We started our first outlet at Carter Road, Bandra and now, we have nine. We included the much-loved burgers, pasta and salads along with crepes. You can’t bring in something new and expect people to like it,” says Morea.
(Ravi Sharma is a co-partner of the Crepe station brand.)

Need degree? “Yes. However, experience is the only thing that will train you to survive in the industry. Even if you can’t afford to study, no one can stop you from getting the experience. And, one more thing, make sure your accountant is a pro,” he adds.
“One noticeable difference between setting up an eatery in India and abroad is discipline. No one becomes a waiter in India for the love of it. Our main focus is on maintaining consistency, hygienic and clean kitchens. I’ve also recently opened Elbo Room at Bandra, Mumbai,” he concludes.

Anuja Jatkar (26),
Owner of Crepe Station franchise at Fort
“I was always interested in food – even more than shopping – and loved trying out different cuisines. I did my MBA in Marketing. It took a lot of effort convincing my dad. I didn’t have a degree in hotel management, so a franchise was the best option.
I underwent three-month training with Crepe Station on how to handle the cashiering, softwares, kitchen and supplies. My initial investment was
Rs 50-60 lakh.”

You have to be willing to take the risk. People think it is easy, but reality is far from that.
For example, during the IPL, we had a ‘Guess the man of the match’ offer where we distributed free shots to the tables that got it right. I maintain a Facebook page and we also send out regular emails and SMSes to customers.

Tip: Youngsters start with a bang, but fizzle out if they do not focus on the management. Ensure the food is fresh and consistent, as customers are finicky about these things.

Need degree? You don’t necessarily need a degree, though it definitely would be an added asset. Start a business after finishing your post graduation.

Gaurav Sethi (28)
Owner of Mumbai’s Café Royale, Banyan Tree, HQs, Gaia in Pune
“Café Royale is a brand that has existed for the past 90 years, though it had shut down 4 years ago to give way to Cinnamon. Last year, we decided to re-launch it and Café Royal has been good ever since. Apart from the regular obstacles that all new businesses face, there was nothing in particular. By the time we opened Café Royale, we had gained a good amount of experience and this was the smoothest of them all,” says Sethi.

Tip: Get your ground work, facts and figures in place. Though this business looks rosy from the outside, it’s 10 times tougher from the inside. But impossible is nothing, once you have decided to go for it, give your 100% and you will emerge as a winner.

Five steps to success
1.Do thorough ground work before investing your money
2.Location is the most vital factor for restaurants
3. Plan for contingency
4. Get the right people for the job
5. Give it your 100%

Need degree? I feel, if you get a strong, experienced team, it’s not important, but you should have the business acumen.
Sharang Rawal (24)
Front-end, business development for Café Royale, Banyan Tree, HQs
“I’m a BMM dropout. I’ll be the perfect example for your story,” he says with a grin. He set up Loop, a media company and ran it for three years. “It is easier to start out so young, as you connect with the people who come here. You tend to have more passion. It is better to do an MBA before you get into this field. My path is passion driven, but you have to slog. Gaurav is an MBA. We’re two
different examples,
you see.”

Obstacles: Struggle is a part of every new venture. Sometimes, you doubt yourself and that very minute, you get a positive response from a client. During an occasion like the IPL or foot matches, I have even taken orders as the place is overcrowded.

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