Radha Kapoor, 28, who studied in New York and then returned to India to set up her own business, loves Japanese cuisine and likes to try all good food that comes her way. She’s happy about the way the Indian culinary scene is changing, especially with more international restaurant brands entering India.
Kapoor, daughter of Yes Bank MD and CEO Rana Kapoor, was a regular at the Serafina in New York and Yauatcha in London. Both brands recently opened in Mumbai and are looking at other cities.
“While it’s good that they have come here, they still have some distance to travel in terms of quality and consistency with their food and menu,” said Kapoor.
Patrons like Kapoor living in metros and big cities, are drawing international restaurant chains to India’s still small but emerging casual and the fine dine space, which is already being predicted as the next big trend after the quick serving restaurant format.
Currently, Chinese cuisine tops consumer preference. Yauatcha, created in 2004 by Alan Yau as a dim sum and tea place, first opened in London. Mumbai has been its next destination. It will soon compete with Ping Pong, a popular London-based dim-sum chain. Being brought in by the Mirah Group that also runs the Cafe Mangii, Falafel’s, Man­chester United Cafe Bar and Rajdhani chains, Ping Pong is also present in Washington DC, Sao Paolo and Dubai.
Other brands such as Nobu, Carluccios and Zuma too are contemplating entering India soon. Nando’s, the South African casual dining restaurant chain, famed for its flame-grilled peri-peri chicken, has seven restaurants in India, and plans more. Its native and global competitor, Barcelos, is also scouting around for India partners and locations.
According to the India Food Services Report 2013, the casual and fine dine chain market is estimated at R4,500 crore in 2013 and projected to touch R10,000 crore by 2018. Of this, the fine dine is worth R500 crore. “Indian consumers are readily trying out newer cuisines; international brands are capitalising on this,” said Kersi Marker, brand head, Ping Pong India. “Our focus will be on good visibility and food. We are looking at scale and our pricing will help us achieve that. Mumbai has the potential for at least six Ping Pong restaurants. Over 10 years, we are planning 30 restaurants across India.”
“There is great potential for premium restaurants in cities. The discerning Indian is well-travelled, experienced and understands global cuisine nuances,” said Nitin Motwani, CEO at KA Hospitality, the India franchisee for both Hakkassan, a fine dine brand present in London and Dubai also, and Yauatcha. Both offer Chinese cuisine, with Hakkassan known for Cantonese fare. Both are Michelin-starred restaurants in London.
Serafina, the Italian restaurant chain present in 16 locations worldwide, has aggressive plans for India.
“Serafina has the potential to be present in all metros and key cities. In Mumbai, three Serafinas can co-exist,” said Kersi Mistry, GM (operations), Global Kitchens, the franchisee partner for Serafina and Haagen Dazs in India.
“International players entering India are lured by the growing disposable incomes. A new consumer set is emerging faster than anywhere else in the world,” said Manikantan N, GM marketing, Nando’s. “While real estate is a challenge, we are planning on 30 restaurants over five years.”
Consumers are more than willing to frequent the new restaurants. Motwani said that at Yauatcha, located in Mumbai’s business-centered Bandra-Kurla Complex, daily customer numbers touch 300 on average. “We expected to attract mostly office-goers, but are attracting a lot of south-Mumbai customers and kitty party groups.”