Siddharth Sethi and Pavithra Priya were both very passionate about the food industry and studied hospitality together at the Welcom Group Graduate School of Hotel Administration (WGSHA) Manipal. For a couple of years, they both worked in marketing and restaurant consulting roles, but ultimately, their entrepreneurial drive and dream to bring their family favourite recipes to people and share the love through food led them to finally take the plunge and set up their own café in 2017.
Initially, they drew inspiration from Siddharth’s mother for the name and the initial menu. Big Momma’s first started as a home-based venture and within a few months, they pivoted to a full-fledged café model and expanded the menu.
In Conversation With Siddharth and Pavithra of Big Momma’s Eatery
In an exclusive conversation with The Restaurant Times, Siddharth and Pavithra talk about their journey in the industry, the story behind Big Momma’s Eatery, choosing the right location, menu engineering and a lot more.
Choosing The Right Location
Not every available space is right for the restaurant. A good restaurant location is harder to find than some people think.
According to Priya and Sethi, space is a major issue in Bombay. While starting out, they had to consider many factors such as first and foremost, their budget and things like the location, demographics, and trends. For example, the kind of menu and price points that would work in a student/campus neighbourhood are very different from those that would do well in an upscale, residential area.
So, they kept these factors in mind and found a commercial café space in their own area (Wadala East). It was within there budget, and they knew the needs of the market well.
“It is a primarily upper-middle-class residential neighbourhood and to date, does not have any other restaurant of this type serving wholesome European, Indian, Mexican and Asian fusion food at reasonable prices,” says Priya and Sethi.
Catering To The Customer Demands
The food industry is changing. With the rise of the standard of living, cooking meals yourself and eating it is no longer a necessity. More and more people can now afford luxuries like eating out and ordering in. This had led to several new trends in customer behaviour. Customers have options ranging from pure vegetarian food, organic food, takeaway option, etc.
“We have to strike a balance between our culinary vision and the demands of the market based on where the café is located,” says Priya and Sethi.
When they started out, they wanted to feature there family favourites, such as the scrumptious biryanis (in chicken, seafood, meat, and even jackfruit versions – these are closely guarded family recipes!), cheesy quesadillas, salads, and there line of wholesome dips (beetroot pesto, hummus, and herbed hung curd, among others).
As they went along the journey, they realized that customers in that area also wanted more variety, so they expanded the offering to included one-pot Asian meals, signature sandwiches, burgers, and made-from-scratch pizzas, in addition to a robust Bakery and Patisserie section with gooey brownies, fresh cakes, cookies and more.
In addition to deciding the items on the menu, it is also important to work out the ‘cost of making’ for each dish, to be able to decide the price and to have a selection of seasonal items to keep people interested.
Dealing With Competition
With so many culinary options and different dining styles available to customers these days, competition in the restaurant industry is fiercer than ever. Therefore it is important to create a unique brand that will tell customers what your restaurant is all about and set your establishment apart from the rest.
“We create unique comfort and fusion dishes, most of which are family recipes that cannot be replicated by other competitors. Moreover, our focus on top-quality ingredients and a continuous feedback loop with customers helps us stand out,” say Priya and Sethi.
For example, based on people’s requests, we have now started offering custom, curated menus for special orders and events (ranging from 10 to 100 people), where we tailor-make a meal package based on the event and the customer’s needs.
Secret Sauce To Success
Taking a restaurant to a successful position is slightly different from merely running a restaurant successfully. Though the former is a product of the latter, some extra measures need to be taken to fulfil your culinary dream.
“The secret behind our successful restaurant is our passionate team and the whole of Big Momma’s family! We are able to fully embrace each day of this foodie journey thanks to our staff, family, friends and of course, our customers. It’s a dream come true for us to be able to bring people closer to their favourite wholesome food,” say Priya and Sethi.