A developing country has many advantages most of which include the growth of various public sectors due to the overall advancement and progress of the citizen of the country (Menon, 2013). In the case of India, with more than 50% of the population being below the age of 25, upliftment of the middle class was a direct effect fueled by the simultaneous development of the country. The most highly rated sector out of all that developed happened to be the hospitality and food and service sector. Some debate that it was the entry of American QSR brands which took off this revolution, others say that it was a result of the increased spending capacity of the common public combined with some of the trends in the industry. Scholars believe as it seems the most logical middle ground, it was a combination of both these major factors along with several other influencers that shaped our country and its food service establishments to be the way they are.
The most necessary requirement for opening up a food and beverage establishment in India has shifted from financial needs to the need of an idea, a concept on the transformation of which restaurateurs stand out from their competition. The market has to be analyzed so as to reassure oneself the higher possibility of turning the concept into reality and every single aspect has to be planned according to the segment being targeted (Smith, 2017). The menu is the heart of every such establishment across every segment and something that becomes a crucial point in ensuring success in operations. Although, having the best planning, resources, location and even the concept will not matter if all these pieces are not joined with an adhesive. The management approach binds all the others together and hence turns out to be the pivotal point as far as the future of the organization is considered.
2) CRITICAL LITERATURE REVIEW
Food for humans has always been one of the main necessities in order to thrive and flourish. As evolution and discovery of arts and ingredients took place, the concept of cooking slowly transformed from a mere need to an art. A specialized form of skillset that only the best could master were rewarded with high respect and recognition (Murray, 2017).
2.1) ORIGIN OF THE FOODSERVICE INDUSTRY
Ancient organizations of people specializing in a particular craft or a skillset executed just that efficiently since as long ago as the 11th century in the form of guilds. These crafts varied a lot and ranged from retail products to restaurants to various hand made products. The way this system was organized in some of the civilizations balanced the economies. Since travel was not developed as much as it is today, most of the produce and skillset remained local. Masters of these skillsets would pass on the teachings to apprentices who would then behold the responsibility when of necessary caliber. Chefs existed and developed a lot of skillsets too, but what lacked was a proper defined organization to compile all the skills so as to form a higher order organization. The Indian food service scenario dates back even further to 250BC when food was provided to travelers in outlets, taverns or inns (Ghosh, 2011). These practices were never organized and were not aimed majorly at earning profits but for public welfare. Sophistication, standardization and rigidity ensured advancements in the field of culinary arts.
2.2) DEVELOPMENT AND EVOLUTION
Such a situation has stepped into the Indian market too and chefs and owners are looking for optimum and efficient processes with the help of technological advancements, new approaches and different management procedures. Throughout the history India has been the kind of a nation which takes pride in cherishing home cooked meals. Especially during festivals there is always a huge elaborate spread of preparations and families bond over the entirety of the process. Naturally, moving onto eating out in restaurants, took a time to getting adjusted to by a majority of the older generation. Eateries cooking fresh food regularly had spawned in various locations of the country as the British rule was imposed and developments in terms or rails and roads was undertaken. These eateries were again aimed at serving to the most basic need of human; i.e. hunger. Modern day restaurants work on highly contrasting principles, objectives and values and are mostly aimed at creating memorable experiences for the guest as well as staying at the top of the chart (Ghosh, 2011).
The evolution of the food service sector was enhanced in India since the introduction of American QSR’s just as the 21st century was beginning. Just as the hype was getting steady through the following decade, India discovered and showcased interest in the fine dining segment and fusion cuisine. The responsibility for the chefs of this generation is rapidly increasing with the introduction of even a small trend and aspiring motivated chefs never think about just staying afloat but always are ready to go upstream in the hope of being the pioneers of a breakthrough; i.e. a trend whose shelf life by some variations remains five or less years. A lot of people hit the eject button in this race as they see their journey getting complicated and shift to a more tried and tested combination of going about their establishments (Ray, 2017).
These generic settlements inculcated by this certain group of chefs in order not to drown do not shape or affect the enhancement of the industry. The ones that stay on the path of refilling their passion with the enthusiasm of a freshman combined with the current experience get to bear the fruit of being pioneers which is rarely consistent and isn’t long lasting. These approaches in various aspects of opening up a business and running it taken by the set of forward thinking chefs in the industry guarantee success.
2.3) MARKET, SEGMENTATION AND STATISTICS:
According to Suri (2018) the growing consumerism, rise of nuclear families, increased disposable incomes and urbanization has been a major factor in evolving the food and beverage sector across the country. This change can be evidently seen in the research reports released by the CRBE, a leading real estate consulting firm according to which 60% of the restaurants are located on high streets versus the mere 29% of them located in various shopping malls and complexes. 80% of the food and beverage operators are indigenous domestic chains and the United States dominate the international brands and restaurants in India at a whopping 70% which are placed majorly in malls. Over 1200 restaurants in some of the major cities of the country were surveyed and casual dining restaurants were found to be growing the fastest with numbers as high as 46%. It was also found out that the location choices for the kind of a restaurant varied a lot. 62% of all the International restaurants are located in malls where as 68% of all restaurants are located on high streets.
What requires for the successful operations is a lot of planning which is no longer an afterthought but something that is done very well before the laying out the concept. And it is also observed that the Indian market is tremendously gigantic with opportunities in every segment and in various tiers of cities too. Simply, the spread of word about a new concept being practiced in terms of food itself gets curious customers walking in, getting delighted, forming opinions and then leaving. It is then the responsibility of the management team and the kitchen team to do justice to the idea and simultaneously create mesmerizing experiences for the guests so as to transform them into repeat and loyal guests. A lot of space is also being allocated only for the foodservice establishments in a lot of places which confirms the trend and guarantees the presence of a versatile market.
In Delhi, the casual dining segment encompassing 43% of the total restaurants leads the market with the Quick service restaurants to follow with 21%. The pubs and bars take the third spot with 17% followed by the cafes and dessert houses both at 9%. This market trend is same in rankings with some minor percentage differences in some of the other metropolitan cities like Mumbai and Bangalore (Suri, 2018). Despite the influx of westernization and modernization, the footprint of Indian restaurants is the most owing to the reason that no matter how much one’s creativity blooms, the guarantee of tried and tested combinations always having the highest chances of success leads the innovative mind onto settling with something generic, steady and safe.
2.4) CONCEPT AND ITS IMPORTANCE:
Deciding on a type of establishment or the cuisine merely is not enough in this day and age. Both these decisions have to be backed by a rock solid concept. Every new chef is looking for an approach to enter the market which is unique to themselves which eventually helps in product differentiation. One of the most celebrated example of a unique Indian concept is the reimagined Indian cuisine by Chef Vineet Bhatia. A chef, having gained culinary education in India and having struggled to contain the vison and creativity that he had in store for the Indian cuisine due to the restrictions bombarded in the Indian foodservice sector a few decades ago. Agitated by the plating restrictions in Indian cuisine he came up with a modern approach to make food prepared with Indian ingredients and flavors to look like something completely minimalistic, beautiful and artistic. The sparks created by this progressive concept developed into a huge fire for which his concept is being praised till date (Ray, 2017). The concept or the approach that a chef decides to go with has to be futuristic as its survival or sustainability depends entirely on it. Anticipating the futuristic trends and market demands and coming up with an idea superimposed on the same lines is the tricky part and where many chefs fail.
Another example includes the likes of a Japanese chef, a pioneer in the Japanese cuisine who leads the way as far as new and unique approaches are concerned. Chef Yoshihiro Narisawa has had an upbringing amidst the nature and approached Japanese cuisine with the intention of reviving the Satoyama culture (Morabito, 2018). The word ‘Satoyama’ refers to the forest encompassed within farmlands and mountains. All natural ingredients including leaves, herbs, flowers and wild vegetables are used minimizing the wastage and sending a beautiful message of indulgence on the plate. Certain social and environmental issues and messages are also conveyed through his food and he believes in the circle of life by reviving old techniques, giving them a new aspect and pushing them into the future.
2.5) MENU PLANNING APPROACHES
However strong the concept may be, the whole package is incomplete without having an equally impactful menu to pair it with. And designing one is not an easy task. For some chefs, it takes years to perfect a single dish. One of the most unique menu belongs to a Michelin starred chef hailing from Spain who has such an inventive, scientific and academic menu which places him at the forefront of Spanish cuisine. Chef Andori Aduriz the owner of the 9th best restaurant in the world named ‘Mugaritz’, is famous for a menu consisting of 25 to 25 tasting dishes and is described as not only a meal experience but a journey which lasts for at least 3 hours (Kravitz, 2017). The best part about his restaurant is that it is closed for 4 months of the year and this is when the entire team of chefs work on changing the menu and refining it to perfection based on innovative approaches. They not only redefine an idea but discover new ones, inculcate them and revolutionize the menu aspect of the food. Destination menus are also gaining a lot of traction as people are travelling, exploring various places and along with that wish to taste the local cuisines. That’s where the local destination menus come into picture which are tailor made according to various surrounding factors.
2.6) FOOD SAFETY REGULATIONS
It is very important for every foodservice establishment across every sector to maintain a set standard procedures while running operations in order to remain legally certified and consistent throughout the operating phase as far as ingredients, their storage, usage and disposal has to be a well maintained chain in accordance with HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points). Regular audits, internal as well as external ensure the regulation of the same. The knowledge carried by the general population is too much these days for organizations to con them via methods of adulteration and non-certified ingredients. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has a strict regulation on the certification of processed or semi processed ingredients that are used in the restaurant kitchens (Arora, 2015). Having certified more than 380 products over 16 different categories, FSSAI is working on standardizing many more in the coming years.
2.7) MANAGEMENT APPROACHES AND TRENDS IN THE MARKET
Discipline in the hospitality industry is one of the most essential prerequisites for running the operations smoothly. Responsibilities are to be taken and fulfilled. Executive chefs across all segments have started focusing on creativity, innovation and the freedom the experiment in their kitchens. This liberty can result into haywire operations and diversions from the main vison and mission. Hence the management approach must include a balance of a healthy and friendly working environment and culture without sacrificing on work. One of the most popular trends emerging in the Indian food and beverage sector is the formation of F&B clusters specific to an area in a locality. Deriving its roots from historical local markets; i.e. one stop shop for all kinds of gastronomic satisfaction, these hubs attract a lot of people via food festivals and other interactive indulgences through the advent of multi cuisine experimental outlets which engage the customer by conceptualizing innovative approaches. Asian cuisine beats out American and European cuisine on establishments’ per city basis.
According to Keche (2018) the fusion cuisine is becoming a huge trend in the Indian market as I literally combines two entities in a magical union and presents it together in the most beautiful ways. Involving oneself into fusion cuisine requires a lot of knowledge and experience. Hyderabad is one of the highly growing market as far as fusion cuisine is concerned reports Anjan Goswami, a food critic based in the same city.
It is estimated that the annual food sales all over the world amount to about $400 billion and are continuously increasing. Sky is the limit in terms of creativity and experimentation. With the not so strict rules regarding cuisine anymore, chefs have the natural upper hand by being innovative.
As the Indian market is emerging rapidly in every segment, real estate is not left far behind. As demand for the perfect location increases, the prices of those estates increase too. Even after acquiring the land or area needed for the establishment, the cost of infrastructure is rising every quarter. Moreover, the cost of acquiring raw ingredients or any other commodity is inflating to a point where the return on investment is marginal in many cases. Food costs increase by about 9% annually and to cope up with that, the owner or marketer thus has to think of creative ways to keep the establishment up and running. To improvise on the financial situation, companies are resorting to creative solutions by shedding away as much ownership responsibility as they can; a practice observed in most of the numerous QSRs all over the country. Some of the operational factors include the limited manpower or shortage of high quality skilled staff as well as the absence of a streamlined and efficient supply chain.
The food and beverage space is constantly evolving, the need to take unique and innovative approaches is inevitable for today’s chefs and owners in order to stand against the competition and survive in the race for excellence and market share. In a country like India where its own cuisine ruled the market for centuries, people started believing that there was no reason to fix or change anything if it wasn’t broken or inefficient. This almost got established as a rule for decades and across multiple generations who have owned various establishments. The food revolution that we see today would’ve happened a long time ago if this reluctance of moving from the mainstream onto something progressive wouldn’t exist. Chefs who dared to break this false euphoria ended up revolutionizing their operations due to their innovative approach paired with a dynamic menu resulting in recognition all over the world.