Dhruv Dutt began working in the hospitality industry when he was seventeen years old, and he applied for a prestigious program under the Welcome group by ITC group of institutions. There he was groomed for becoming a manager, not a hotel owner. Later while running his brother’s business Chai Garam, he realized that he belonged to the restaurant industry, and that led to the birth of Era Bar & Lounge.
The newly opened restaurant in Connaught Place is undoubtedly a paradise for people who love to munch on food and relish good music. Despite all the other restaurants in CP, there is none like Era Bar & Lounge. It welcomes you to a celestial blend of three eras, the Renaissance, the period of Industrialization and the Victorian Period.
How Dhruv Dutt Carved A Niche For Era Bar & Lounge In A Short Span Of Time
In an exclusive interview with The Restaurant Times Dhruv Dutt talks about the importance of customer service and delivering a great experience, and how he made all of it possible at Era Bar & Lounge.
Attracting And Retaining Customers
The first and the foremost thing to keep in mind is zeroing in on the USP. Dutt says that Era Bar made it a point to create a look and feel that had never been done before.
After having explored numerous options, Dhruv decided to zero down on a time zone based theme, which could give a different feel altogether. The splendor of the Renaissance era allows one to indulge in the checkered European history. The dedicated space to Renaissance is brightly lit and slightly distanced from the music, so the scholars or thinkers among the visitors can easily talk at leisure while enjoying some perfect food. The double door grand entry to the luxury and coziness, Era Bar gives you feels from all spheres around.
Doing something unique is always going to attract the customers, however, to make them come back, you need to ensure that the service and food you offer is impeccable.
Era Bar & Lounge regularly comes with up with innovative marketing efforts such as hosting Foosball game nights and inviting artists to attract the crowd. Brand tie-ups also help in reaching out to potential customers. Apart from this, maintaining contact with customers by having an online presence and a strong customer relationship is essential.
Delivering A Great Customer Experience
Customer Experience is the most critical factor that determines whether you will make it or break it in the restaurant business. According to Dutt, customer satisfaction is what matters at the end of the day. It is not only the taste that binds a customer to a place but also the way they are being treated.
Expectation management is half the ball game. For restaurants, however, it is particularly important due to the blurred lines between the different restaurant formats. The level of service differs in a fine dining restaurant and a casual dine or a quick service restaurant.
Customers come with already set expectations on the brand level, that is the primary service expectations; and also on the basic level, that is, the kitchen service.
“We want our guests to have an unforgettable experience. Era ensures that every person who walks inside is attended with care. Over everything else, we endeavor to offer a jolly good time.”
Ensuring Great Food
While most restaurateurs keep focusing on the recipe and the food presentation, maintaining the quality of the food that you serve should be given prime importance. And to deliver impeccable food, you need to ensure that the raw materials that you use are of the highest quality. This is where the role of vendor management comes into play.
According to Dutt, having a quality supplier is essential. The proximity and the scale at which the vendor offers his/her services are the primary factors one needs to keep in mind when it comes to choosing a vendor.
Another factor that is important to keep in mind is the credit terms. The time taken to build the capital to repay should be long enough to sustain your operations. Along with this, the quality that has been approved of during the sampling must remain constant and you should be continuously supervising the same.
Maintaining The Bar Service Standards
India’s drinking culture has changed rapidly over the last few years, and if you are serving alcohol at your restaurant, having a professional mixologist has become indispensable. Customers are constantly looking to try new things, and you must have a mixologist who can create an innovative drinks menu.
Dutt also emphasizes the importance of the staff being familiar with the entire menu. ‘Your staff should be aware of not just the menu, but also know the ingredients and the preparation details of the food or beverage items. This helps in communicating the specialty of each item effectively to the customers and also in upselling them,’ says Dutt.
Most of the Special Offers at Era Bar are based out of liquor as the demand is more. They have several offers and discounts running and they regularly come up with unique bar promotion techniques to attract more customers. Dutt however, reiterates on the importance of the quality and service. ‘Sometimes, even your signature cocktails can get messed up. When something as basic as this gets messed, no deal or promotion can combat that. Thus, it’s important to get the basics right first,’ says Dutt.
“Era came with strategies like ‘Your age is our Beer’ wherein the customers were offered beers at the same price as their age, which was a killer concept and turned out to be very popular. We’ve also been running deals such as selling alcohol all day long at the price of Rs. 100. Having said this, it is essential to sell the best of your drinks only. The quality of the drinks matters more than the deal that is available to the customers.”
Handling Rowdy and Drunk Customers
One of the biggest hassles of running a bar is handling customers who get rowdy after having one too many drinks. According to Dutt, patience is the only mantra that one needs to have while handling such customers. ‘It is not everyone’s a cup of tea, even though it seems so. We give the benefit of the doubt to the person that, it is the intoxication that is responsible for such behavior, and we make sure we deal with a lot of endurance. But if the misbehavior is directed towards other customers, we have a zero-tolerance policy for the same,’
On the same note, Dutt adds, that he is fortunate enough not to have had many such customers and that Era Bar is one of the friendliest places you’ll ever find.
Maintaining Employee Happiness
A happy and motivated staff is an asset. It is important to keep the team happy, as they are the ones responsible for running a healthy restaurant.
Dhruv Dutt asserts the importance of alignment of staff according to their potential and not letting any negativity prevail. Good performance should be rewarded and appreciated. ‘When the staff is assured that the relationship is mutually beneficial, they work their best,’ Dutt says.
It is essential to recognize the talents, assess the requirements, and then give the employees an opportunity to shine at their job. Era takes every possible step to keep the staff strongly knitted. ‘Being considerate towards the staffs’ needs, understanding their position, and nurturing their skills, helps in mentoring your team better,’ says Dutt.
Making A Restaurant A Success
According to Dutt, ultimately there are three essential things that need to be kept in mind for running a successful restaurant. First, it is very important to not go above the fixed cost. Set a margin so that you never end up in a situation where you cannot break even.
Second, it is critical to plan the purchases on a regular basis. One cannot anticipate the best returns right from the first month itself. Plan and work towards achieving the best to get your break even as soon as possible.
The third part is working towards establishing and sustaining yourself in the market.
Talking about his future plans, Dutt says that considering the current market trends, he wishes to tap into the experimental market to gain an outlook of what is available in the market and what can further be explored.