Ankit Upadhyaya had always been a tea lover. During his college times and also during the tenure of his job he had to go to coffee shops and brands for casual/business meets, and each time a basic question came to his mind- “‘Why can’t there be a place which serves good Tea just like how we get good Coffee, which is also pocket friendly?” That was how the idea of the brand famous for its tea, Tea Pea Cafe was conceptualized.
“Honestly, I always like to bring out something new, unique and exclusive in everything I do. So entering the restaurant industry wasn’t my target, but “Tea Pea” helped me introduce something new in the market, so that’s why I decided to step into the restaurant space,’ says Upadhyaya.
In Conversation With Ankit Upadhyaya Of Tea Pea Cafe
In an exclusive interview with The Restaurant Times, Ankit Upadhyaya talks all about his brand. He talks in detail about the importance of deciding a location and how break-even for a restaurant is important.
Story Of Tea Pea Cafe
According to Upadhyaya, there were hundreds of names on the list before Tea Pea was finalized. They wanted a name that reflected their specialty product.
On the achievements front, there is a lot more to achieve, but to date Tea Pea has been able to provide to the customers everything they had planned. Those planned aspects were a good and refreshing cup of tea, good ambiance, pocket-friendly setup and energy that one would want to experience every day.
‘TP is a global term for Time Pass used by millennials, so when we eventually go global, the name will be easily accepted globally. And it has worked well for us; people have reacted very positively to the brand name. Some customers come seven days a week, which is no less than an achievement for us, and we aim to replicate it in all the upcoming stores,’ says Upadhyaya.
Choosing The Right Location
According to Upadhyaya, positioning has always been an essential element of setting up a restaurant brand. The success of a restaurant depends on how well it is positioned. The positioning includes various factors, from location to the price of the location. Location predominates a business’s ability to market itself, the competition it faces from companies, the total cost of operation, taxes the business owner has to pay and the regulations they must follow. The location also matters for marketing. The importance of location goes beyond your business’ physical location and website rank in Google search results. It extends to the placement of the advertisements.
‘It was a tricky process for Tea Pea cafe. We searched for more than 100 days on the shortlisted locations, but nothing fruitful. Tea Pea was self-funded, so there were a lot of constraints on the real estate front that barred the search several times. Finally, we came across a store that was a part of our rejected list, but the store was extravagantly beautiful that made us lock our brand keys. Located in the huge corner of a busy junction, that junction is today known as “Tea Pea wala signal,’ says Upadhyaya.
Importance Of Break- Even For Cafes In India
According to Upadhyaya, there are two kinds of break-even necessary for a restaurant brand. The first and the most important one is the operational break even when the sale is enough to do all operational expenses that include rent, salaries, inventory. This should not take more than five to six months. Tea Pea achieved this in the second month of its operation in all stores.
The second critical criteria is the return on investment, and this is where one get their invested money back from the profits of the store. This should happen within 14 to 18 months from the start date.
‘If any business can give you a break even within 18 months and allow you to freely do business for a minimum of five years with your product being in demand, its a good investment. Our first store reached ROI in about 15 months,’ says Upadhyaya.
Maintaining The Brand And Product Standardization
According to Upadhyaya, in every business, restaurants included, one certainly need to have a watchdog for the brand, and these watchdogs are none other than the brand police. As an owner, this will most likely be the owner itself. It is crucial to avoid negligently making decisions that do not align with the concept, so an informed brand watchdog is necessary.
Maintaining the brand and product standardization are the most significant challenges and a mandate when one goes for multiple stores. ‘We spent almost a year to make the standard recipes and the preparation techniques to maintain the same taste and quality and setting the SOPs in place to make sure we are not dependent on a particular chef or a manager. It now looks quite manageable to go for as many numbers of stores we want in no time now,’ says Upadhyaya.
Everything comes and goes, but the food stays. For a restaurant brand, food should be given all the importance. It is vital to keep the food less fancy and more adaptable to customer demands.
Ensuring Staff Happiness
According to Upadhyaya, the staff is the backbone of a restaurant brand, and if the staff is happy, they will keep the customers happy. Creating an open-door atmosphere is essential. Employees who have time to stew about their problems and feel like they have to remain quiet tend to stir up trouble. It is essential to eradicate all the issues before it ever happens.
‘Pay attention to your employees regularly and listen to them. Employee happiness ascends when management is approachable, attainable, and responsive. Since your employees spend a large amount of their time at your restaurant, encourage their voice. Solicit their feedback, so they don’t feel voiceless,’ says Upadhyaya.
Technology has always had a robust and positive impact on the restaurant industry. The combination makes sense. Every restaurant owner aims to deliver a perfect, convenient and enjoyable experience to their customers, and technology offers a means to speed up operations and uplift the customer experience.
“We have been using Posist for our brand Tea Pea, and it provides us with an end to end solution. It is very important to have an effective system in place to understand the leakages in the inventory and supply chain and Posist is the answer for us. We are still not 100% system driven but will soon be with the help of the Posist team,” says Upadhyay.
Upadhyaya concludes by sharing his future plans of franchising Tea Pea Cafe. He plans to introduce twenty additional outlets of the brand across Mumbai by the next financial year.
‘I would say the secret sauce behind any successful restaurant brand is continuous innovation. Don’t let your brand become old or monotonous. Our company name is INNOVATIONS PRIVATE LIMITED, and the motto behind it is “Infinite innovation,’ says Upadhyaya.