The Man Behind World’s First Multi-Brand Virtual Kitchen Chain- Gaurav Kumar Agarwal

Gaurav Kumar Agarwal of Maktub Hospitality

Gaurav Kumar Agarwal had been a foodie since childhood and his love for food kept growing, which led to the birth of Maktub Hospitality. Maktub Hospitality is the world’s first multi-brand virtual kitchen chain model that has set the trend ever since its inception. 

Agarwal initiated Maktub hospitality with Chawla’s 2 online.com in 2014, and it was a huge success. Agarwal, under Maktub Hospitality Private Limited, developed brands like Sethi’s, Delhi Food Factory, Food Singh, Nawab’s, Public Cafe, Wat-A-Biryani that deliver lip-smacking food all across the country and have already made a mark in the F&B industry. Amongst his newest brands, Ministry of Burgers, Lost in Pizza are already shaking up the market.

How Gaurav Agarwal Used Standardization Of Products And SOPs To Run World’s First Multi-Brand Virtual Kitchen Chain

Maktub Hospitality operates in an industry where a product or a service are provided by someone and marketed and delivered by someone else. This is a great outsourcing model. Applying a reverse analogy, Agarwal standardizes the products, sets up a standard operating procedure and implements the same in kitchens that he has been collaborated with.

This ensures a streamlined process of client servicing. The vision was always to set up an efficient and the first ever virtual multi-brand kitchen chain franchise that they are today. In an exclusive interview with The Restaurant Times, Gaurav clears the picture about what Maktub Hospitality is, and how does it also work about the current food trends and a lot more.

“The online Food and Beverage industry is burgeoning. Being in a nascent stage which creates a scope for tremendous success, I want Chawla’s 2 online to be at the forefront of this revolution. We are not bound by geographical conditions and are on a path to become a brand with global name recognition and appeal.”

Setting Up The Brand

Maktub Hospitality’s first brand was Chawla’s two online.com in Noida. The idea was to provide supreme quality of food and unrivaled customer service. Initially, it started with the North Indian cuisine and introduced other cuisines like Mughlai, Awadhi, Hyderabadi, Punjabi, Biryani and now Italian, American and Chinese.

Each brand offers a single cuisine; Delhi Food Factory delivers Punjabi cuisine, Navab’s is for Mughlai. Food Singh provides Awadhi cuisine, and Sethi’s has already made a mark in Hyderabad cuisine. Recent initiatives have been, Ministry of Burgers that delivers American cuisine, Lost in Pizza caters to Italian cuisine. Besides these, we also have a bakery that offers delicious bakery products. Chination caters to Chinese cuisine, and DietPro is a health food brand.

‘Replication within the brands happened because I anticipated something critical in the initial days which was to use any kitchen’s left out potential to the fullest. Hence, I considered a franchise model where we would approach kitchens to deliver quality food under the name of Chawla’s two online.com and use its capped potential’, says Agarwal.

Agarwal further adds that they manage to produce around six thousand orders from a single kitchen hence utilizing its potential to the fullest. ‘This is how we started from Noida and expanded in Indirapuram and now we serve Pan India with operations across 35 cities and also set up a global base as we move ahead. We have already crossed more than 525 outlets across the country. This is expected to reach 1000 by the end of 2018,’ says Agarwal.

Budgeting Challenges

Whether you are opening a brand new restaurant or taking over management of an already existing eatery, having a well researched and strategically outlined budget plan can make or break you.

According to Agarwal, the source of funding is the most critical feature in starting any brand. Maktub Hospitality raised on its own, however with time the operational expenses keep rising to match our growing business lines and brands.

‘At a point, I had to eventually sell assets and maintain inflow of cash to keep the brands and the business running.

Selling assets is a significant risk, but at the same time, it was balanced by aspirations of setting up the brands. I had to sell all my real estate assets and take a loan on my house to keep the capital inflow strong. I did approach investors, but everyone was dicey about the idea that I was putting on the table,’ says Agarwal.

Regarding challenges, the initial operational challenges were faced while scaling the brands and setting them up. In cities like Bangalore, communication problem with the team was quite prominent, so the local people were hired. Besides these, big players on the market created chaos in almost every city. The industry is such that you need patience and time to set up.

‘We have already delivered more than 1.5 Lakh orders and that too without any marketing. With setting up of operations across multiple cities in India, we are looking at raising funds not just to boost activities but at the same time bring valuable people on board from the F&B industry – people who are visionaries in their skill set and who can add value not only to the brand but in every other aspect of working. Raising funds will not only catalyze our growth, but it will also help us to penetrate in other Indian cities better’, says Agarwal.

Gaps In The Restaurant Business

According to Agarwal, there is a massive gap in the operational model of a commercial kitchen. They do not function at their full capacity, and this is when we realized that we need to find a kitchen and then deliver food maintaining our SOPs.

We provide these restaurants with leads and with no further involvement of the workforce in these kitchens that produce quality food with a reduction in cost. All of this became possible because the kitchens were able to function with full capacity and hence creating a new era in the industry. If you happen to look further, no such chain in India delivers food the way we do. We are building a new path as we move ahead each day.

I standardized my products, set up standard operating procedures and implemented the same in kitchens that we collaborated with.

Gaurav Kumar Agarwal of Maktub Hospitality talks about the importance of serving quality food

Contemporary Challenges Attached With Human Resource Management

Contemporary business environment brings new challenges affecting many aspects of management including one of its crucial facets that are the Human Resource Management

According to Agarwal, the restaurant industry has many unique HR challenges due to large workforces, high turnover, complex scheduling, and wage and tip reporting requirements.

Due to a heavy focus on costs, competitors, customers, menus, vendors, and pricing, one might not have the time to handle the industry’s top HR challenges, but this can become dangerous in the long term. 

‘HRM has always been my prime focus. Any business is dependent on this factor, and it is a mandate to assess quality and management issues with care when it comes to addressing HRM. We take care to answer every concern that lies within the management of the resource. We have not faced any issues because our execution processes ensure balance within the ecosystem we operate in’, says Agarwal.

Future Plans

‘My future plans include penetrating into smaller cities in India. These cities are a huge market base for us, and I am making sure to tap it in the right way possible. That is why this is the best time to raise funds as we are growing and gaining better leverage of untapped areas, but a capital base is essential. We have also started ground operations in the UAE and Singapore market, and our ultimate aim lies in going global as soon as possible’, says Agarwal.

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