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INTERVIEW

"We ensure we use newly cropped ingredients"
Monday, 30 November, 2020, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Silver Beach Café was the first outlet, which was launched in Juhu, Mumbai, in the year 2010. After the success of the first outlet, a chain of restaurants was launched around the world. This includes Nom Nom at Versova and Bandra followed by Copa in 2013, Sirocco and Radio Bar in 2015. Soon after this, Ministry of Salads and The Terrace (both in Mumbai) launched in 2016 followed by his magnum opus project - Estella in December 2016; Mumbai’s most premium beach facing restaurant and bar. The group also launched Basanti (Mumbai) and The Lazy Goose (Goa) in 2017 followed by Silver Beach Cafe Dubai and Lokhandwala (Mumbai) in 2018. By the end of 2018, one more ambitious project Toro Toro (Goa) went on stream and the year 2019 opened doors to Basanti in JBR - Dubai and Mumbai’s most iconic theme bar - Radio Bar (second outlet) in Chembur. The restaurants have won several awards,

Hitesh Keshwani, founder & director, Silver Beach Entertainment & Hospitality Pvt. Ltd, talks about his various outlets, impact of the pandemic on hospitality industry, plans on expansion and so on, with Vijetha Iyer. Excerpts:

What is the impact of the pandemic on the hospitality industry?
The hospitality industry is probably one of the worst hit industries during this pandemic; owing not just to the fact that we had to close down with on going + fixed costs but also to the fact that we have still not opened doors for dine-in. Several restaurants have had to close down for good while others are struggling to hold on in the hope that we will open soon. The industry is together praying for some good news where we are able to run daily operations; even if this means less capacity per seating.

How are you going to recover from the losses faced during the pandemic?
As you are aware, all restaurants are closed during this period. Needless to say, all owners are facing a very tough time with several ongoing expenses and no income. We are all hoping for some government intervention favouring restaurant survival and waiting to open doors; needless to say with all hygiene & safety protocols in place. Our focus points post-pandemic will change - the attention will be on securing fresh & organic produce, ensure all hygiene measures are taken, our guest is safe and their wellbeing is at the centre of all decisions made. We will strive to do our best in terms of quality and ensure 100% transparency to guests. Trust for guests is going to be the most essential factor when dining out.

Since you have launched 12 brands in a few years, how are your brands different from that of competitors?
We pride in catching the pulse of potential guests. As long as one stays true to their vision - whether it is a small take out joint or a premium nightclub; if the entire team works towards a common goal, the brand will stand out. All our brands stay true to its core - comfort food & excellence in service; this is the mantra we have followed since we opened doors to our first outlet - Silver Beach Cafe in Mumbai’s upmarket Juhu suburb.

What are the challenges you faced while setting up the brands?
Getting the pulse right is always key. Once you figure you basics well - location, branding, cuisine & team; and align these with your vision things fall into place. The other logistical challenge usually is staffing / retention of staffing & high rentals which is why we must have a RoI plan in place.

How are you ensuring safety under the new normal?
To ensure our guests safety, we have a guide sheet in place which includes everything from ensuring our staff is housed in a safe staff room, daily temperature & oxygen checks, a set of vitamins to all staff to ensure immunity boosting, sanitisation of all surfaces in the kitchen & packaging material, timely use & disposing of gloves, masks & shields & overall mental health i.e., keeping our teams spirit high are some of the essential to-do’s during this pandemic.

What are the precautions taken while delivering the food?
Delivery is done via two modes - one via aggregators & second, directly through the restaurant. For both, we follow the same protocol i.e., daily temperature & oxygen checks and ensuring they have enough masks & sanitisers for their personal use. All packaging material is sealed & sanitised before sending out. From the food point of view, we ensure we use newly cropped ingredients & cook fresh food - made to order.
   
What are your thoughts on the food trends coming out these days, from farm-to-table to millennial dining experiences?
Well, trends are plenty however if they are sustainable they may become a way of life. Farm to table is always great, it’s fresh, healthy & immunity building. Other trends like organic foods, vegan, keto & more have gained strength in the F&B area, some of which I personally feel have a lot of potential to grow.

What are your plans on expansion, diversification, and collaboration and so on?
For now, we will look at keeping our existing outlets afloat & healthy; on the side we are completing the interiors at four to five more properties that were slated to open in the second half of 2020 but have now got pushed towards the end of the year/early 2021.
 
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