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Eatopians and Technoak

In: Business and Management

Submitted By jimit
Words 1283
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he Eatopians: The food entrepreneurs who are betting big on India
TV Mahalingam, Nupur Amarnath & Malini Goyal, ET Bureau Nov 13, 2011, 11.19am IST

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"The consumer is evolving, even in small towns," he says. A customer in Amritsar gave them the most authentic recipe for khao suey. Patna is their fastest-growing city. Kapur is sure that the brand will work everywhere but it's the talent and real estate crunch that's holding them back. The food inflation worries him too. But with 10 million dimsums sold at Yo! China (and counting), he's clearly hungry for more.
Dhoklas to Donuts - Gaurav Goenka, 30
Brands Owned: 7, including Rajdhani, Falafel's, Manchester United Café Bar (MUCB), Mad Over Donuts (MOD), Café Mangi

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Number of Outlets: 40 Rajdhanis, 9 Falafel's, 26 MODs, 3 Café Mangi, 6 MUCBs
Cities: 24-plus
Turnover: Rs 120 crore-plus
Number of Customers Served: 25,000 per day (including its catering at campuses). Rajdhani has sold more than 8.7 million thalis to date
For a company that makes it's moolah by feeding people, Mirah Hospitality has exhibited a ferocious appetite for growth. In the past three years or so, it has acquired controlling stakes in Rajdhani (a chain of North Indian thali restaurants in which it was a JV partner), Falafel's (a Lebanese fast food chain) and Mad Over Donuts (a chain that sells, well, donuts). Mirah has also opened six Manchester United Café Bars, a franchise of ManU Football Club.
"We have clear growth plans for each one of our brands," says 30-year-old Gaurav Goenka, managing director of Mirah Group, a Mumbai-based business house with interests in real estate, hospitality, textiles with Rs 300 crore in revenues. "We expect our quick service restaurants to grow rapidly in the next year or so. Mad Over Donuts has grown from 8 outlets last year to 26 outlets now.
We expect to have 35-plus Falafel's outlets by 2013 from about 9 outlets now," says Goenka, who drives the food business of Mirah, which includes its restaurants and catering services to campuses like Infosys. Goenka plans to increase the number of Rajdhani outlets — the flagship brand which accounted for almost Rs 55 crore in revenues — to 50 (from 40 now) within a year. Overall, Mirah's revenues from its food business' clocked Rs 120 crore last year.
The company has plans to scale up its Italian cuisine chain — Café Mangi. By the end of 2011, Goenka hopes 12 Café Mangis (from the current three) will be operational across five cities. What's next? "We are open to domestic acquisitions provided the price is right. Also, we would like to get renowned international food franchises to India," says Goenka.
Buns More - Dheeraj Gupta, 37
Brands Owned: Jumbo King
Number of Outlets: 40
Cities: 3
Turnover: Rs 18 crore
Customers Served: 8.5 crore plus vada pavs sold till date
His Favourite Dish: Prefers samosas to vada pav any day
Jumbo King's corporate headquarters is rather modest. It's a no-frills, 80s style open office located inside an industrial estate in suburban Mumbai. On one of its walls though is a statement of ambition: a gigantic map of Mumbai, with 300 pins on it. Each pin is a possible location — train stations, crowded street corners, and claustrophobic markets — for a potential outlet for Jumbo King.
Currently, Jumbo King has 40 outlets — 34 in Mumbai, four in Gujarat and two in Bangalore. It is in the business of selling vada pavs — the single largest selling snack in Mumbai, says Dheeraj Gupta, founder and managing director of Jumbo King. On the map, there is another number — a really big one. It's the number of vada pavs — about 8.5 crore plus — that the company has sold since it was founded in 2001. Gupta, a big McDonald's fan, swears by John F Love's book McDonald's: Behind the Arches and browses through it, when in doubt.
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Gupta's recent lessons have been learnt from the local market though. "We went into the Gujarat markets with a Mumbai pricing (read cheap). We found that customers who were not used to eating on-the-go were wondering if (inferior) quality is the reason for the pricing," says Gupta, who is now convincing the Gujarat franchisees to increase prices. Jumbo has also invested heavily in the back-end, moving from a chilled to frozen supply chain, in the last two years. "We hope to have 100 stores in two years," says Gupta.
Passion Palate - Rahul Akerkar, 52
Brands Owned: 5 (Indigo Delicatessen, Indigo Café, Tote' on the Turf and Indigo Deli, Neel)
Number of Outlets: 5
Cities: 1 (Mumbai)
Revenue: Rs 60 crore
His Favourite Dish: He is more of a pani-puri, dal chawal guy
Rahul Akerkar's visiting card reads: "Managing Director & Director Cuisine." Talk to the country's most celebrated chef-restaurateur for a minute and you realise that he would prefer it the other way round. Food is where Akerkar's heart is, his life stories revolves around food. He proposed to his wife, Malini over a bowl of sweet corn chicken soup.
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