Hospitality success stories are often dominated by those strongly associated with the industry. However, Amit Bagga, with his roots in a family business of automobiles, is an exception. Since 2010, he has cemented his place as a leading entrepreneur, one successful venture after the other, through sheer business acumen and love for excellence. Today he is the CEO and Co-Founder of Daryaganj Hospitality, which owns the much-loved brand Daryaganj – By the Inventors of Butter Chicken and Dal Makhani. From a single restaurant in April 2019, it grew to 4 outlets across top locations in Delhi-NCR in just one year and is growing further. The brand also recovered fast from the impact of COVID-19 and has proven to be resilient.
Amit has been recognized as one of India’s Fastest Growing Entrepreneurs by a leading publication in India, while the India Today Group featured him in a list of the Top 50 Young Leaders of Delhi. He has also been awarded Entrepreneur of the Year for the F&B industry by the Indian Achievers Forum. Also, many of Amit’s ventures have won a number of other prestigious awards. In the year 2021, Daryaganj won the Restaurant of the Year Award-2021 from Delhiites Magazine.
In Conversation with Amit Bagga, CEO & Co-Founder, Daryaganj Hospitality
In an exclusive conversation with The Restaurant Times, Mr. Amit Bagga, CEO & Co-Founder, Daryaganj Hospitality discusses how the brand has been successful in bringing the restaurant experience home with a unique delivery concept.
Covid-19 And Restaurants: Challenges Affecting The Business
The market has been extremely unpredictable since the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020. At the time when restaurants were shutting down dine-in services, Daryaganj was not into the food delivery business. When restaurant businesses began reopening, after the first wave, the brand started focusing more on delivery. In fact, in March 2021, Daryanganj Hospitality had almost reached 90% of the pre-Covid numbers in terms of sales, with some outlets even exceeding the pre-Covid numbers.
With the second wave hitting the restaurant industry again, Amit emphasizes that restaurants have been facing multiple challenges. The biggest challenge the industry is facing today is poor cash flow. In the restaurant business, the raw materials are procured on a credit basis. While credit lines with suppliers can only carry a restaurant so far, they still need enough cash flow reserve to cover their overhead expenses like rent, staff salaries, etc. However, when the cash flows dry up and sales drop, restaurants end up with limited working capital.
Due to the low sales and poor revenue, it becomes difficult for the restaurateurs to pay the staff salaries. It is manageable to do so for 1-2 months but beyond that, it becomes totally unviable. Moreover, the rental deals had to be negotiated again. It worked in favor of some restaurants that had the support of their landlords but affected the business of other restaurants that lacked this support.
Amit also focuses on the relevance of doorstep food delivery and how it helped them survive the harsh times.
Because of establishing a food delivery system during the pandemic, we were able to run the restaurant, generate decent revenue, and pay the staff salaries.
A Multi-Sensory Dining Experience Delivered At Home!
Daryaganj launched a very unique dining concept- ‘The Five Senses Delivery Box’ recently, in response to an increase in online ordering. The idea of delivering a multi-sensory delivery box came when Amit ordered food from one of his favorite restaurants but felt that something was missing in his culinary experience. He closely evaluated the situation and realized that the food tasted the same but the experience was missing as he was not dining in at the restaurant.
When you dine-in at a restaurant, the experience you gain not only comes from food but other factors as well. The dining-in experience that all the 5 senses encounter together makes it an actual experience.
The brand incorporated the design of the 5 senses delivery box in the following way:
- Taste: The food carries the signature flavor of the restaurant.
- Sight: The fresh ingredients give a vibrant look to the dish. The packaging and colors speak on behalf of the brand and bring delight to the customers.
- Touch: The best efforts have been put into making the packaging quality worth touching and identifying. The brand uses premium packaging materials and triple-layer packaging to preserve the quality and freshness of dishes.
Appealing to the senses of hearing and smell was the toughest part while making the 5 senses delivery box.
- Hearing: A QR code printed within the box, which when scanned, plays a list of songs that goes well with the theme of Daryaganj.
- Smell: Daryaganj Hospitality has developed a signature fragrance for all its restaurant outlets. A welcome note that comes within the box incorporates the same fragrance. The paper is printed with ink that consists of the same fragrance. Alongside, the packaging also preserves the authentic aroma of its North Indian dishes.
By touching the focal points of all 5 senses together, Daryaganj developed a sublime experience for its customers. The brand succeeded in its attempt to create a wholesome delivery experience, and the concept is being well received by the customers.
Achieving An Exceptional Delivery Experience
Amit highlights the importance of safety and hygiene in food delivery and discusses how these factors are extremely vital for Daryaganj. The brand has introduced 3 layered packagings for its food deliveries. They have a sealing procedure that ensures that there are no issues of food tampering. Daryanganj has installed AI-supported software in their kitchens that can easily monitor the kitchen staff. For instance, if someone is not wearing a mask, the software automatically raises a ticket. The software is also backed with robust technology that tracks their hand movements.
We have installed the software in the kitchen to ensure that the kitchen staff is handling food properly, following the safety norms, and maintaining a good level of hygiene.
Technology Measures Paving The Path To Growth
Amit strongly believes that any restaurant business that doesn’t adopt technology will never survive. In the near future, technology is going to play a substantial role in supporting the entire operations of restaurants. Data analytics plays a vital role for Daryaganj. For instance, the inventory management software indicates the consumption pattern which helps the brand to plan its purchase orders in a systematic way. By ordering intelligently, the brand saves substantially in terms of cutting down on wastage and increasing the shelf life of the raw materials.
The brand can access important customer information such as birthdays, anniversaries, past orders, most ordered dishes and sends personalized offers and customized discounts to them. This helps in generating loyalty and making them feel special.
The Hybrid Model Of Success
The concept of Cloud Kitchens is gaining popularity because of factors such as low entry barriers and low investments. However, Amit points out that it is not easy to start a cloud kitchen without having an established brand. As the customer is unaware of the brand’s physical presence, cloud kitchens spend a huge fortune in marketing their brand.
Customers are highly concerned about food safety and they want to go with brands that are well established. If someone wishes to order food online, they are more likely to get it delivered from a brand that has a physical presence. This reassures them that the food they are ordering is coming from a safe place. As all the top brands have entered the delivery segment, it is less likely that consumers will seek brands that are not yet established.
However, looking at the growing popularity of the delivery-only business, Amit says that Daryaganj Hospitality had plans to start a hybrid model even before Covid struck. The brand was earlier focused on opening the same number of food courts and dine-in outlets as well as delivery-only kitchens. Given the current scenario, the brand plans to open more delivery outlets than dine-in outlets.
Daryanganj currently operates 4 outlets in Delhi-NCR. The brand is soon going to open another outlet in Noida. Daryanganj Hospitality has further plans to launch 5 more outlets in Delhi NCR, taking the count to a total of 10. It also plans to launch Daryaganj in the international market with Canada and Australia being the most favorable locations. Along with capturing the international market, Daryanganj hospitality also has plans to enter into other Indian markets.
Watch Amit Bagga in an exclusive F&B Talks session with The Restaurant Times.