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How Dine-In Restaurants Can Get Into the Delivery Mode Without Much Heartache

How Dine-In Restaurants Can Get Into the Delivery Mode Without Much Heartache

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Having been at the forefront of the fine dining space, AD Singh of Olive Bar & Kitchen has become a staunch advocate of the dining-in-plus-delivery model and of connecting directly with customers. He shares his success mantra for the new business environment, even as he launches his delivery-only gourmet pizza vertical, Olive Pizzeria.

IT IS HARD to be a survivor in the business of fine dining, but AD Singh, Managing Director, Olive Bar & Kitchen, definitely belongs to this diminishing tribe. And if he speaks up in favour of food delivery, when his forte is running dine-in restaurants, his words deserves our attention.

“Dine-in restaurants will remain our focus,” Singh said, but hastened to add: “It would be foolish to ignore the potential of the delivery business. It may get me just 10 per cent of my dine-in revenue and the margins may be tightly squeezed, but it’s a good business going forward.” To tap into the delivery market, Singh has launched a gourmet pizza brand, but more of that a little later.

With the strong possibility of a third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, and with the Delta variant being in the news daily for the wrong reasons, restaurateurs cannot take their sights off the delivery business. They cannot also ignore the reality that all cities have not eased lockdown restrictions completely (especially in relation to restaurant timings) or that footfalls are still far from January-March 2021 levels.

Having been at the forefront of the fine dining space, AD Singh of Olive Bar & Kitchen has become a staunch advocate of the dining-in-plus-delivery model and of connecting directly with customers. He shares his success mantra for the new business environment, even as he launches his delivery-only gourmet pizza vertical, Olive Pizzeria.

IT IS HARD to be a survivor in the business of fine dining, but AD Singh, Managing Director, Olive Bar & Kitchen, definitely belongs to this diminishing tribe. And if he speaks up in favour of food delivery, when his forte is running dine-in restaurants, his words deserves our attention.

“Dine-in restaurants will remain our focus,” Singh said, but hastened to add: “It would be foolish to ignore the potential of the delivery business. It may get me just 10 per cent of my dine-in revenue and the margins may be tightly squeezed, but it’s a good business going forward.” To tap into the delivery market, Singh has launched a gourmet pizza brand, but more of that a little later.

With the strong possibility of a third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, and with the Delta variant being in the news daily for the wrong reasons, restaurateurs cannot take their sights off the delivery business. They cannot also ignore the reality that all cities have not eased lockdown restrictions completely (especially in relation to restaurant timings) or that footfalls are still far from January-March 2021 levels.

CONNECT WITH REGULARS, AVOID DEAL HUNTERS

TO DO well in this crowded marketplace, restaurants need to establish and nurture a direct connect with their regulars, who for some reason may still not be physically coming to them.

The big two aggregators may help you get ‘discovered’, Singh pointed out, but their most avid users are essentially deal and discount hunters. They have no loyalty to a particular product. It is important therefore for established restaurant brands to connect with regular customers and incentivise them to order direct. “Our regulars are phoning in. We must keep reaching out to them and nurture a relationship that is not dependent on aggregators,” Singh advised fellow restaurateurs, adding: “These loyal customers will make our delivery business grow.”

To make this relationship work, a number of new technology providers are entering the market with user interfaces that are easy to navigate. And they also charge a reasonable fee.

Regular customers, in fact, have been responsible for making the delivery business of Singh’s innovative Pan Asian brand, Fatty Bao, “the No. 1 performer in the group”. Operating this vertical out of three kitchens in Mumbai and one each in Delhi, Bangalore and Kolkata, Fatty Bao garners an average order value of Rs 1,700. And in Delhi, the business it generated kept the kitchen of Monkey Bar alive after it shut down because of the lockdown. Here’s another example of one kitchen serving multiple cuisines and formats.

TO DO well in this crowded marketplace, restaurants need to establish and nurture a direct connect with their regulars, who for some reason may still not be physically coming to them.

The big two aggregators may help you get ‘discovered’, Singh pointed out, but their most avid users are essentially deal and discount hunters. They have no loyalty to a particular product. It is important therefore for established restaurant brands to connect with regular customers and incentivise them to order direct. “Our regulars are phoning in. We must keep reaching out to them and nurture a relationship that is not dependent on aggregators,” Singh advised fellow restaurateurs, adding: “These loyal customers will make our delivery business grow.”

To make this relationship work, a number of new technology providers are entering the market with user interfaces that are easy to navigate. And they also charge a reasonable fee.

Regular customers, in fact, have been responsible for making the delivery business of Singh’s innovative Pan Asian brand, Fatty Bao, “the No. 1 performer in the group”. Operating this vertical out of three kitchens in Mumbai and one each in Delhi, Bangalore and Kolkata, Fatty Bao garners an average order value of Rs 1,700. And in Delhi, the business it generated kept the kitchen of Monkey Bar alive after it shut down because of the lockdown. Here’s another example of one kitchen serving multiple cuisines and formats.

DEVELOP ‘DELIVERY-FRIENDLY’ EXCLUSIVE MENUS

ANOTHER important takeaway for Singh has been the need to develop delivery-friendly menus. SodaBottleOpenerWala (SOBW), the Irani/Parsi brand, has delivered a range of paos and ‘paratha wraps’ that are easy to deliver and popular with customers who order in. With these offerings, SOBW logs in an average order value of Rs 700. More importantly for Singh, it keeps the SOBW restaurants in touch with their regulars across cities.

Interestingly, although the mother brand, Olive Bar & Kitchen, is not in the delivery business – Singh, clearly, does not wish to dilute its fine-dining credentials – its Bangalore restaurant has laid out a delivery-only menu consisting of the favourites of it star chef and managing partner, Manu Chandra. And it’s working. Olive regulars are ordering in.

ANOTHER important takeaway for Singh has been the need to develop delivery-friendly menus. SodaBottleOpenerWala (SOBW), the Irani/Parsi brand, has delivered a range of paos and ‘paratha wraps’ that are easy to deliver and popular with customers who order in. With these offerings, SOBW logs in an average order value of Rs 700. More importantly for Singh, it keeps the SOBW restaurants in touch with their regulars across cities.

Interestingly, although the mother brand, Olive Bar & Kitchen, is not in the delivery business – Singh, clearly, does not wish to dilute its fine-dining credentials – its Bangalore restaurant has laid out a delivery-only menu consisting of the favourites of it star chef and managing partner, Manu Chandra. And it’s working. Olive regulars are ordering in.

HOW THE OLIVE PIZZERIA BRAND WAS BORN

RETURNING to his latest brainchild, Olive Pizzeria, the deliver-only gourmet pizza brand, Singh said the pizza delivery business “is huge across price points”. The success of Chef Alex Sanchez’s Americano restaurant in Mumbai, which has done good business tossing up gourmet pizzas (among other comfort food items) for home delivery, convinced Singh that people want quality delivered at home and are ready to pay for it.

Singh tested his Olive Pizzeria brand philosophy – “gourmet pizzas in slick packaging” – in Hyderabad and at Olly in Gurgaon. The next stop is Mumbai. The going has been good so far, which is why Singh plans to focus on Olive Pizzeria to “make it a national brand”.

The second lockdown clearly has spurred restaurateurs to get serious about the delivery business and develop brands that address the unmet needs of the dining population. With seasoned and successful restaurateurs such as Singh looking at a long-term engagement with the delivery marketplace, and seeking to establish a direct and continuing relationship with regular customers, not mediated by aggregators, the future of direct ordering appears to be in steady hands.

RETURNING to his latest brainchild, Olive Pizzeria, the deliver-only gourmet pizza brand, Singh said the pizza delivery business “is huge across price points”. The success of Chef Alex Sanchez’s Americano restaurant in Mumbai, which has done good business tossing up gourmet pizzas (among other comfort food items) for home delivery, convinced Singh that people want quality delivered at home and are ready to pay for it.

Singh tested his Olive Pizzeria brand philosophy – “gourmet pizzas in slick packaging” – in Hyderabad and at Olly in Gurgaon. The next stop is Mumbai. The going has been good so far, which is why Singh plans to focus on Olive Pizzeria to “make it a national brand”.

The second lockdown clearly has spurred restaurateurs to get serious about the delivery business and develop brands that address the unmet needs of the dining population. With seasoned and successful restaurateurs such as Singh looking at a long-term engagement with the delivery marketplace, and seeking to establish a direct and continuing relationship with regular customers, not mediated by aggregators, the future of direct ordering appears to be in steady hands.

By Sourish Bhattacharya

Published On: 10/08/2021

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