Pravesh Pandey is the Chief Belief Officer and Chief Instigator of the largest microbrewery in the country, Byg Brewski Brewing Company which is a masterpiece situated in Bengaluru. It is present in two locations, Hennur and Sarjapur Road.
Professionally, a hotel management graduate, he has got the opportunity to work with the best companies globally. Pandey was working with Peninsular & Orient Cruise Company as an Operations Supervisor, where he handled a large customer count of around 3000 members per cruise. He feels privileged to have worked with companies like JSM Corporation, as the Director of Operations for Hard Rock Cafe and Shiro in India. He was also the Business Head in Impresario Entertainment & Hospitality Pvt. Ltd.
Pandey has ensured that in these 17 years, his learning should be revolving around understanding the psychology of restaurant consumers, evolution in the restaurant industry, and how things have changed in the restaurant segment in the current era. It has fairly been a great journey for him so far.
In Conversation With Pravesh Pandey of Byg Brewski Brewing Company
In an exclusive conversation with The Restaurant Times, Pravesh Pandey talks of his journey in the restaurant industry, the story behind Byg Brewski, ensuring customer satisfaction, operational challenges and a lot more.
Property Supervision and Management
According to Pandey, from the external point of view of customers, it was extremely essential for them to create a destination, where a normal Bangalorean can come and be proud, that there is something in the city, which can come on the world stage.
Byg Brewski is all about ensuring that patrons have a good time, and hence entertainment remains at the heart of all endeavors. They wanted it to be unique and have a fair advantage over other restaurants, which could later form as a cult in the history of the brewing company.
Pandey genuinely feels Byg Brewski is one of the most beautiful properties in the world he has ever seen, and he has fallen in love with it for almost four years now. The brand imagery is inspired by Norwegian mythology, particularly, the couple Byggvir and Beyla of Scandinavian origin; whose penchant for beer brewing has been brought to life here.
Byg spreads across 65,000 square feet, with 1500 seating capacity. The brewpub has five experiential zones, a step-dining will offer world cuisine, where live acts keep happening. From world-class performances to fresh talent in the city, Byg Brewski curates the most engaging acts and artists to take the experience of the place to the next level. Other than that, it has a nightclub called ‘Guilt’, with a medieval Scottish vibe which is a weekend party place, it is all about guilty pleasure, indulgence. The club is a niche space for the Bangaloreans to party!
Ensuring Customer Satisfaction
As a restaurant owner, one must be aware that how tough it is to keep a food business up and running. One might also be interested to note that over 75% of all food businesses fail or close within the first four years.
According to Pandey, opening a restaurant is difficult but, running it is even more difficult. Pandey wanted to create a monumental experience, a tourist destination. He believes he has a solid team that drives customers through food. Celebrity Chef Sabyasachi Gorai, who was awarded the Chef of the year by the President of India, has curated a menu comprising 200 international and Indian dishes from a state-of-the-art, live silent kitchen. Along with the amazing food, there are cocktails made by principal mixologist Karthik Kumar, one of the finest mixologists in the country, who has represented Byg at many platforms and taken ‘Guilt’ to top 50 bars in Asia.
Byg Brewski offers 16 different types of homebrews from master brewer Martin Bernard, who has received many awards in the brewing scene in the US and Canada.
It is the core leadership team because of which they have a great business. Customers at Byg keep coming back because of loyalty.
According to Pandey,“Loyalty is the end result of four aspects: Trust, Care, Respect, and Love.” He does not believe in giving coupons, offers, and discounts.
They have a Big Gold Program in the internal loyalty program, which is a free loyalty program for the customers, which bribes emotions. Pandey believes that the internal loyalty program cannot be copied by any competitor, it helps them to get their tribe back to them, no matter whatever offers and discounts the competitors offer. The customers have a sense of belonging, whenever they think of Byg, they feel connected with the experience. They have a customized technology app, a unique model, which helps them in increasing the customer base by 20%-25% every year. The app helps them to intrude into the enormous customer database, which helps them to understand their customers better by tracing them and understanding their tastes and preferences.
Although Byg is away from the city, the experience and loyalty help them to retain the customers.
Importance Of Menu Engineering
Everything starts with the menu. The menu dictates how your operation will be organized and managed, the extent to which it meets its goal.
‘This is an area where I personally get involved, creating a new item, be it beer or food,’ says Pandey.
It is an extremely serious process for Pandey and it is a matter of product extension for him whether the product has to be extended or not, how frequently is a product required to be changed and the answer is got through extensive research. For example, the market dynamics which are affected by uncontrollable factors such as new restaurant concepts, delivery business models, price fluctuations affect customers’ behavior and this affects their own target audience.
According to Pandey, “The restaurant industry is a very fragile industry and in order to keep ourselves safe from the competition and the market dynamics, we need to be much more forward-thinking than sitting and seeing what is happening around us.”
The infusion of technology and knowledge has helped a lot, from the data gathered, we can make out inferences in terms of popularity of dishes, delivery product, growing aspirations of people, inflation, competition sector, and changing strategies. This is where the need for innovating and changing arises. There should be research on various cuisines, as to ‘Why is it selling fast?’, ‘Where is it selling?’ etc.
It is a very careful process and he does not delegate this work of deciding a menu item. In Byg, some of the new dishes have become signature dishes in no time because of careful innovation.
Operational Challenges Faced While Running The Business
Intense competition, rising food and beverage costs, and the lingering recession are just a few named challenges that today’s bars and restaurants face. According to Pandey, apart from acquiring hundreds of licenses, the biggest challenge was to create a perception in consumers minds because Byg is far away from the city. Byg is a destination place and it has won the battle of location in the first 3-4 months itself. For him, it is about creating an experience rather than a brand. Their mission statement also says: ‘Crafting Experience’, as the statement suggests, everything is experiential in Byg Brewski.
Another challenge was the moment of traffic in the space, as so many people are served at the same time, Pandey’s earlier experience from small restaurant could not help in solving this problem, but his experience from the cruise, where 3000 people were present and 500 serving them, he designed the entire space in such a way such that the moment of traffic of staff in the space reduces and also the time of reaching out to customers. Byg has one of the largest kitchens. Being an open kitchen, standards of hygiene remain unquestionable. It also accommodates one of the largest wood-fired pizza ovens.
Another major challenge was managing people, Pandey drew inspiration from the airport traffic management, where a card similar to a boarding pass is given to the customers with details such as table no., which section, etc. is mentioned. Each section has its own manager and waitress who will see the customer’s card and assist them.
How To Keep Operational Costs In Check
“Business of business is to be in the business,” says Pandey.
No matter how much customer experience we talk about, but if the company does not make any profit then it is of no use being in the business. There is too much expenditure in the hospitality industry.
Controlling food and labor costs are two of the most important tasks for a restaurant owner. With proper menu planning, sales forecasting, and employee training, a restaurant can prevent overspending on staff and supplies and still provide excellent quality dishes and service. Using a variety of planning, monitoring, and evaluation techniques, one can continually manage these expenses to ensure profits without sacrificing quality.
The two main operational costs incurred are of manpower and cost of goods sold of food and beverage, which are the highest. They have been using an extensive P&L Tool, over the years, which helps in giving an accurate business and financial analysis. This tool helps them to view monthly expenses, trend line, financial duties and the current strategy is to conserve energy, water cost, cut down expenses. They have been taking various measures to cut down expenditure.
Secret Sauce To Success
For Pandey, the secret sauce to his business is his people.
“You don’t get the best people in the industry, you get good people and you make them the best,” says Pandey.
His USP is that being a Chief Belief Officer, he finds good people and makes them the best. The two major challenges as owners are, to recruit the right people and the attrition rate.
Byg has a defined culture code, which is made by their own people which consists of PQRS- play, question, run. Pandey considers himself very lucky because the attrition rate is really low in his restaurant.
“Byg is rated 4.9 on Zomato for last one year and it is all because of our people, the housekeeping staff, valet staff, kitchen staff,” says Pandey.
The employees in Byg are so well gelled because of their involvement in the company, their voices are heard, they feel that they make a difference in the company.
Out of love for the company, 45 employees in the company have got permanent tattoos of the company logo including Pandey. He feels privileged to have such wonderful employees and his purpose is to make these employees future leaders.