Arun Varma graduated at the age of 21 and underwent the training to become a pilot. However, his inclination towards food kept prompting him, which made him come up with this unique concept of the BBQ Ride. BBQ Ride is the third business initiative of the Bangalore based company. BBQ Ride in Bangalore is India’s first on-the-go live kitchen BBQ on a bike.
Arun Varma has taken the food-on-go trend very seriously, with BBQ Ride. He has given Royal Enfield a new purpose, by attaching a barbeque grill as a sidecar. It is more compact and convenient than a food truck and serves the finest grilled food.
The bike is equipped with everything required to cook and serve, such as a storage unit, a barbeque pit, gas cylinder, and even foldable tables. Their business has grown tremendously in the last six months itself, with two franchises in Hyderabad and Delhi and one in Visakhapatnam which will be soon seen on the streets. They recently have received an offer of a franchise deal from Australia too.
In Conversation With Arun Varma Of BBQ Ride
In this exclusive interview with The Restaurant Times, Arun Varma talks in detail about how he started this journey, the challenges he faced, his plans and a lot more.
Process Of Setting Up The Food Bike
According to Varma, the entire process of setting up the BBQ Ride is ten minutes once parked. The chef can get the grill going; all he has to do is open the sidecar top and presto – a rack that comes into view. A tava is attached to a five kg LPG cylinder. The chef reaches into the front of the sidecar for charcoal, which he spreads evenly on the grill to prepare mouth-watering barbeque dishes. A counter also opens out to help serve the customers.
Initial Challenges Of Setting Up A Food-On-The-Go Brand
According to Varma, the Indian foodservice market has many small and mid-size unorganized players competing with large chains. This distributed market reflects some challenges, including the unclear segmentation, varied consumer options for eating out, and the lack of best practices for food services outlets.
‘As BBQ Ride is the first-ever brand of its kind, it was complicated setting it up and making people aware of the creativity. There’s this perception that street food is unhealthy, and for a brand like ours, it became further challenging to make people realize the authenticity of the food on bikes. But we are trying to change this perception, and so we came up with barbeque, as it uses less oily products’, says Varma.
Another important thing to consider is maintaining consistency as you expand. According to Varma, uniformity for restaurants is vital for success, yet it is simultaneously the most overlooked aspect of running a restaurant.
“By failing to standardize your operations, you risk diminishing your profit margins, swelling your expense sheets, and providing sub-par customer service. All of this can cripple your business. Before your restaurant spirals go out of control, make sure you have these processes standardized.”
Importance Of Food Presentation
Food presentation and artful plating are typically considered essential for fine dine restaurants only. However, according to Varma, food presentation is a must, and the plate should be well organized and healthy, even if its street food. When it comes to mindful eating, the way it is presented is highly essential. Food presentation is just as vital and crucial to the success of a dish as its taste, flavor, and seasoning.
‘The way the food looks on the plate is what attracts the eyes and tempts the patrons to taste it. Imagine how your room looks when it’s messy and how it looks when you clean it up, the same ingredients, different results. It is just as true with food presentation and how the elements are arranged on the plate. Clean plating is a must. For BBQ Ride the smell of soot and sweet barbecue sauce lace the evening air, further heightening the experience’, says Varma.
BBQ Ride is first of its kind, and so even we are unaware of the way it should be brought out in front of customers. Both general and personal experiences make me believe that social media marketing is a prominent way of advertising.
Having a strong Instagram presence is an obvious marketing tip. Use Instagram to promote your food’s best visual content. Get up close with your top dishes, and use this social media stage as a place to play around with your food truck brand’, says Varma.
According to Varma, ignoring social media today is near to failure. It is essential to have an active Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter page to share your next location, discounts, coupons, and photos of your newest dishes. However, setting up a social media profile is only a part of the work; timely monitoring and regular checks are very critical.
Further, running smart Loyalty Programs can help you increase your customer retention rate and also promote word-of-mouth.
Maintaining Healthy Selection Of Choices
According to Varma, restaurants that want to offer a healthy menu should consider highlighting items that contain smaller portions, contain more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and less of the higher calorie meals. Menu size and price placement are other ways for restaurants to encourage customers to choose healthy menu items.
‘Creating a healthy menu is not hard and does not have to cost restaurants a lot of money. Nor does it require a total brand makeover. Any restaurant, from an independently owned diner to a multi-unit national chain can offer healthy options and implement strategies that help the consumer make healthier choices. If we talk about BBQ Ride, then the food here is mostly cold grilled, so there is very less use of oil, and we procure fresh meat daily,’ says Varma.
The BBQ food bikes are fast gaining popularity and have become an essential part of the locations where they are providing their services. Arun Varma happily concludes by sharing his future plans. Within the next two years, he’d be ready with 75 BBQ Bikes all around India and also the customers should look forward to some ten more outlets by the next year.