Chib’s idea — of making some of the most popular items from the restaurant, such as his famous green Thai curry, as the highlights of the new eatery — has worked well. Located at Pali Naka, BusaGO, although mere seven weeks old, already enjoys a loyal patronage. The success has, therefore, encouraged the chef-restaurateur to launch half a dozen more outlets this year. The first one will soon open at Bandra Kurla Complex. In return, the Busaba brand gets a boost as it reaches out to more people without having to open a full-fledged facility.
Chib’s experiment with BusaGO points to the emerging trend of high-end restaurants expanding into takeaway and delivery options. Earlier unheard of, it is a format that the famous Italian eatery Don Giovanni was the first to attempt in 2011, with an outlet in Juhu. Cafe Pico — located in Byculla’s quaint lifestyle store Le Mill with a branch in Phoenix Market City, Kurla — then followed. Today, it has four such outlets (called Cafe Pico Express) across Mumbai — Bandra, Lokhandwala, Goregaon and Lower Parel. The latest entrant is Moshe Shek who launched Sufra two weeks ago. A takeaway outlet for Middle-Eastern food such as shawarma, kebab wraps and pulaos, it is located on Carter Road.
Arjun Gadkari of Cafe Pico believes that the key driver of this trend are the coffee shop chains that mushroomed across India. “They introduced the concept of offering a food and beverage experience without the customer having to walk into a fine-dining restaurant,” he explains, adding that high-end eateries like his are now only taking it forward.
But the success of the format, say the entrepreneurs, can be attributed to Indian youth’s high disposeable income. Since they mostly take delivery and takeaway orders, the outlets manage to cut much of the overhead expenses such as waiting staff, cutlery and service tax. This, in turn, helps lower the pricing of the food items. “With a meal priced between Rs 100 and Rs 200 per head on an average, it attracts students, professionals as well as young couples,” says Chib.
Despite this, the format also comes with limitations. “The menu has to be smaller. Sufra includes no more than 12-15 items, most of which are easy to prepare in the small kitchen that the space can accommodate,” explains Shek. Chib seconds him, adding that BusaGo sells only six varieties of curries but makes up for it by offering a selection of smoothies and fresh juices.
At the same time, says Gadkari, it makes the format more manageable. “Cafe Pico Express has a central kitchen in Goregaon where all the items are prepared and delivered to the various outlets across by the staff. We don’t need highly skilled staff to handle the outlet and limited costs ensure that we can replicate this format further,” he explains.
But Shek warns that personal involvement is crucial since the restaurant and the chef’s reputation are at stake. He says, “The first set of patrons is attracted by the brand value. If the quality suffers, it can harm the overall image of the brand.”