Global cuisines offered by specialty restaurant ensures that cult classics and new entrants draw in patrons and drive revenues

Over the years, F&B has begun contributing huge amounts to a hotel’s revenue stream, amounting to almost 35 to 50% of the bottomline

Taro tempura by The St Regis Mumbai
Taro tempura by The St Regis Mumbai

As F&B revenues go, it is a proven fact that the segment has evolved to include several cutting-edge new concepts that are driving revenues and footfalls to restaurants within hotels. Over the years, F&B has begun contributing huge amounts to a hotel’s revenue stream, amounting to almost 35 to 50% of the bottomline, often on the back of the constant experimentation in the segment. However, even today, despite all the innovation, the most iconic restaurants — which continue to draw loyal patrons even as they attract younger generation— are iconic restaurants serving international cuisines in India’s best hotels. They often stick to the parts well-known and experiment with the menus and cuisines only when necessary, which is why they are considered classics. Over the last few years, a host of new restaurants have joined the pantheon of the classics, on the back of sheer brilliance of the quality of cuisine on offer.

The specialty restaurants

Amit Chowdhury, executive chef, Wasabi by Morimoto

Often named among the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, Wasabi by Morimoto at Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai is an absolute icon, regarded by many as India’s finest Japanese restaurant.“Since its inception in 2004, the restaurant has been offering contemporary Japanese food from the repertoire of Iron Chef Morimoto, presented with a contemporary twist. Besides, the ever popular signature dishes like White fish carpaccio, Black cod miso and Aona Goma, the current extensive menu keeps changing and expanding,” says executive chef Amit Chowdhury.

The most exceptional part about the restaurant, which appeals to both the traditionalists and modernists, are the authentic ingredients used, including seafood and wasabi, that are specially flown down from the famous Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo every week. Chowdhury contends that this “ensures our guests are offered not only the best and freshest ingredients, but also the most authentic flavours. Under the guidance of Chef Morimoto, our master chefs regularly visit Japan to scout for the latest ingredients and study the trends in the culinary market.”

Managatsuo Yuan Yaki, Wasabi by Morimoto

In a bid to alter and refine the guest experience, the restaurant is up-to-speed with new techniques of cooking. Another classic, which is a part of President- IHCL SeleQtions, is the 25-year-old Thai Pavilion, with the famous Chef Ananda Solomon heading its rich culinary legacy. The restaurant’s authentic Thai premium dining experience is known because of the signature dishes — Thai green curry, Chicken Krapao, Tab Tim Krob and pangrilled scallops with orange. Its patrons include industrialist Mukesh Ambani and cricketer Sachin Tendulkar.

Executive chef Uddipan Chakravarthy, Thai Pavilion

Executive chef Uddipan Chakravarthy contends, “Thai Pavilion’s legacy has transcended through generations. The menu has evolved based on guest feedback and keeping in mind the latest trends. All the ingredients are imported from Bangkok every 15 days to ensure authenticity and consistency. Our patrons visit the restaurant at least three times a month on an average, and know exactly what they want.”

Kai Nam Prik Tow, Thai Pavilion

Balancing the classic character of these well-established restaurants are the new entrants, the disruptors in the space. Yuuka at St Regis, Mumbai, headlined by Chef Ting Yen (the founder of renowned Oishii Boston in the US) is four years old and continues to attract a rather healthy footfall for the modern Japanese cuisine it serves. Fabled for its theatrical visual presentations such as Salmon on Fire strips — the best salmon on a stem of lemongrass, dipped in a citrus ponzu marinade, or the Avocado Tartare, which is served in a margarita glass with a thin layer of ice encapsulating an umami Corn Dashi, Yuuka attracts both resident guests and gourmands from the city.

As Elie Houbeich, eam — F&B & culinary says, “Our guests appreciate our eye for detail. We ensure that the ingredients  are of the highest quality and presentations are high on visual appeal. Nikkei cuisine, which is creating waves internationally, is our most recent addition to our menu. Mostly, we stick to signatures such as the popular Truffled Lobster Bake and the Vegetarian Treasure Box.” Innovation is the key to Yuuka’s success and the team works closely with Chef Ting to create a menu that works well with the Indian palate.

Much like Yuuka in Mumbai, AnnaMaya at Andaz Delhi is the toast of Delhi’s culinary world. Like European food halls, this pretty restaurant with stained glass walls sells interesting artisanal produce, besides food cooked using organic ingredients. With seasonal ingredients sourced locally at its core, their moto, ‘Eat mindful, shop artisanal, raise awareness’ has been followed to the tee by the chefs while designing the menu.

chef Balpreet Singh Chadha, director - culinary operations, AnnaMaya

“The culinary offerings at AnnaMaya are more seasonal than cyclic. Guests today are always eager to know what is served to them and how it is made. The locals definitely want to experiment and try different cuisines other than Indian. So, serving international cuisines made from local ingredients interest both locals and international travellers,” says Chef Balpreet Singh Chadha, director - culinary operations.

Driving footfall and revenues
The novel culinary concepts crafted by specialty restaurant are not just earning them loyalty from their patrons but also driving a fair share of revenues. The Italian specialty restaurant, Prego at The Westin Mumbai Garden City is known for its fun dining and cosy ambience. However, very few know that it contributes almost 21% to the restaurant and lounge revenues.

Burrata A Colazione, The Westin Mumbai Garden City

“We have continued to focus on freshness of ingredients, homely recipes and simple presentations,”says executive chef Rahul Dhavale, talking about their approach to food. “In my opinion, a restaurant that serves well executed food consistently is bound to have a longer lifespan than any establishment that does not stay true to its concept. Some of the features that drive footfalls for Prego include dedicated live bar and wine display, a full open kitchen, an outdoor alfresco area with natural lighting and a wall of fame displaying framed picture of guests and VIPs.” 

Akshay Sood, director of food & beverage,The Westin Mumbai Garden City

The restaurant’s revenues have seen a year-on-year increase. Akshay Sood, director of food & beverage, reveals, “There is a significant growth in the department’s profit, from 46% in 2018 to 52% in 2019 (6% rise over last year). In terms of Prego’s revenue, it has risen 13% over 2017 and contributes 21% to the restaurant and lounge revenue at The Westin Mumbai Garden City.”

In 2014, The Leela Group’s founder-chairman Capt. C.P.K Nair convinced Sirio Maccioni and his family — who founded and run the fabulous 42-year-old New York culinary classic, Le Cirque, to open an India outpost at The Leela Bengaluru. Since then, the restaurant has benchmarked itself in the culinary space with its exceptionally high quality Franco-Italian food.

Kunal Chauhan, general manager, The Leela Bengaluru

Kunal Chauhan, general manager, The Leela Bengaluru says, “We have been able to earn a revenue of INR 3 crore annually at the restaurant and it contributes around 6% to the F&B revenue. In terms of year-on-year increase, we have seen a growth of 7.5% in the last few years. It is heartening to see the increase in covers by 13%. The biggest takeaway though is our repeat clientele which stands at about 75%.” It helps that at the restaurant, the chefs periodically change the menu, keeping in mind the current trends and promote exotic seasonal ingredients such as Black Truffles, Peruvian Asparagus, White Truffles and Globe Artichoke — it keeps the interest high.

Rahul Bhagat, director - food and beverage, Conrad Pune

Conrad Pune’s fabulous pan Asian restaurant, Koji, has been a talking point because of the consistency of its offerings and the fresh ingredients used to cook. Rahul Bhagat, F&B director at the hotel, says, “Koji, since its opening, has been a success story. Our patrons have been our regulars.” In order to bring newer and better guest experiences to Koji, the restaurant has done plenty of food promotions that offer a completely different menu. “We have our annual Dimsum promotion in November; in spring, we focus on ingredients common in Japan during the season. We have launched a ‘Meal in a bowl’ concept for corporate lunches on weekdays and all-Dimsum lunch on Saturdays.” The constant promotions and pop-ups means that their regular customers keep coming back for more, helping Koji net an average of INR 40.10 lakhs in food and soft beverage revenues. “The revenues has grown by 20% in 2018 and in FY 19, it is already ahead by 25.41% over FY18 revenues,” reveals Bhagat. The lure of global cusine will keep loyal patrons coming back for more.

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