Dharmender Singh has strong roots in the hospitality sector. His talent and passion for F&B helped him get selected as a management trainee at Carlson Group of Hotels, and since then he never looked back. After his two year share at Clarks Group where he was responsible for all aspects of Kitchen management including monitoring food production and aesthetic presentation of food and beverages. He took the enterprising plunge with his restaurants named The Ancient Barbeque and Smoked Biryani House, and finally, he introduced Biryani Art.
The combination of his passion for cooking and never-ending learning guided him towards this industry. Biryani Art is a culinary adventure that allows discovering a variety of North Indian & Hyderabadi Cuisines. Taking a leaf from the Indian culture he aims to create a culinary experience that is as enthralling as the history of different regions.
In Conversation With Dharmender Singh Of Biryani Art
Biryani Art serves some of the favorite and most authentic dishes from both North Indian and Hyderabadi regions. Both these regions in India have unique and exclusive dishes to offer. What makes them distinct from others is that they use local spices and ingredients to curate the dishes. In an exclusive conversation with The Restaurant Times, Singh talks of the challenges he faced, the importance of location, dealing with competitions and a lot more.
“The mission at Biryani Art is not only to serve great tasting food but to provide adequate and courteous service because customer satisfaction is critical. We want to be the restaurant preference for people from all walks of life.”
Choosing The Right Location
Choosing a location is a critically important decision as it can very much turn a stable, well-establishment business into a failed restaurant if not appropriately managed.
According to Singh, the most important thing while deciding the location is understanding the market and knowing the taste palette of the people in that market. Aside from having outlets located in strategic locations in India, Biryani Art has started operations in Malaysia as well.
‘When we talk about setting a restaurant brand internationally, there are specific parameters that need to be analyzed. Government authorities play a significant role. One has to choose a partner and private limited firm to begin the brand, says Singh.
‘Malaysia is one of the most prominent tourist destinations. Aside from that, there is the fact that Malaysians sample a lot of tasty cuisines, so there is a definite guarantee of tapping into the local market. In most other places, restaurants are tricky business investments because you have to import most of the funds, including skilled and professional labour. In Malaysia however, everything, including labour is both comfortable and inexpensive which is a great combination for success’, says Singh.
“The fundamental difference between marketing in India and in Malaysia is that here in India, a website presence, social media presence, third-party integration is required to create a buzz in the market. But in Malaysia all of this is not required, food and market are all that one requires.”
Staff Hiring Process
According to Singh, customer service proves to be one of the most important factors for the success of the food industry. A lack of customer service makes the customer feel disjointed and separated from the restaurant. There is a common saying in the restaurant industry that people will come for the food, but will come back again for the service.
‘The process of hiring is of utmost importance for our brand. We have a training institute in Hyderabad, and all the staff is hired one month before joining so that they are trained in the institute. These days the retention of staff is quite low, so if we want ten chefs, we make sure to hire at least 15 so that if the retention process doesn’t work out, we still have permanent well-trained employees at our outlets’, says Singh.
“At Biryani Art we prefer referral hiring the most. We have a very well planned referral program that allows the staff to maintain a positive and healthy competition. For the kitchen job we mostly conduct a telephonic interview, and for others, there are trial based rounds.”
Menu Engineering and Food Presentation
According to Singh, the simple objective of menu engineering is to increase profit as per the guest at a restaurant. This is achieved through a careful analysis of the profitability of individual menu items, followed by the placement of things on the menu to encourage guests to choose particular dishes.
At Biryani Art, the primary focus while designing a menu was making sure all items are movable. The menu should be straightforward and without any intricacies. It should be very basic very general so that the market easily understands it, says Singh.
Unlike certain art forms, cooking is entirely comprehensive. Food should always have a story to tell that showcases the personality, background, and culture of its creator. According to Singh, though taste plays a pivotal role here, so does actualization. As a chef and a restaurant owner, food presentation is of utmost importance. We use different kinds of flavours to beautify the biryani, and colours mixed with the aroma make them irresistible.
“Authentic Hyderabadi cuisine is our USP. As far as the market section is concerned, we are aiming to capture the masses considering the popularity of Biryanis among all age group.”
According to Singh, the advent of the Point Of Sale software has been revolutionizing for the restaurant space. Using a POS system in a restaurant can save time for attendants, cooks, and bartenders. For example, when an order is placed for drinks, the food POS segregates them to categorize the work and makes it easier. The inventory management feature allows keeping track of every ingredient. This ensures profitability and long-term success.
Singh concludes by saying that he is planning to expand the business and is coming up with more outlets in Nasik and Bangalore in India. He is also taking the brand to the international level by opening the first Biryani Art in Bali soon under the umbrella of V.D Hospitality Services.