Shivang Gupta, the owner of 2 Bandits and the popular The Sky High gets candid with us in a tête-à-tête with him. Our discussions went on to oscillate from his challenges to visions, his perspectives on current licensing policies to restaurant management, his views on changing trends, tastes, technologies and much more. Also, check out his secrets and tips on running restaurants, bar, and lounges in India – and coming up with flying colours!
In Conversation With Shivang Gupta of The Sky High
Shivang Gupta shares his insights about the restaurant industry and speaks about his journey so far.
Shivang Gupta: Initial challenges were pretty much since I did not have any experience in food and beverage industry. Capital investment was the biggest challenge – for that, the thorough groundwork is necessary to figure out what type of investment needed for my project and sources from where it can be procured. In this regard, I was fortunate enough to get adequate help from my family, my mom and maternal uncle.
The second challenge was to search for and select the best location to start with. Finalizing the first venue for my restaurant took me around four months after which I zeroed in on Satya Niketan in South Delhi. The third obstacle turned out to be the menu. Menu selection was a very critical part wherein we needed to decide a menu which would facilitate connecting the target market with the food/service we wanted to introduce in Delhi.
Posist: What are your views on the recent restaurant licensing process with a focus on hospitality and dining?
Shivang Gupta: Licensing process and policies are a bit lengthy and time-consuming too. Though establishing a restaurant takes not more than around 45 days using advanced technology in place but, completing its licensing process delays that process of setting up to as long as four to six months of time. The licensing process needs to be revised in order to mitigate the delay it causes and hampers the business growth.
Posist: What are the best practices and strategies to follow in this specific restaurant industry?
Shivang Gupta: Though my business is more associated with lounge and bar, however, I believe that any food and beverage business is rather an art than science wherein we need to adopt meticulous strategies. I rather believe in cultivating the art of service; where the focus should be on enhancing the quality, beautifying the décor and the ambience of the setup, and hone the art of delighting people we target with the unparalleled services.
Posist: How do you ensure customers enjoy the seamless dining experience at a restaurant?
Shivang Gupta: It is our endeavour to create a great dining experience for our customers. It is NEVER only about the food but, the complete package they pay for, right from the moment they walk in till the time they step outside. Yes, food must be your primary focus, but at the same time, you need to take utmost care of the ambience, menu, service, waiting time, delivery etc.
Posist: What are your views on the transformation in the taste of customers in India?
Shivang Gupta: Yes, noticeable changes are seen in the taste of customers in India. However, at the time it is quite difficult to fathom what consumers want! It is imperative to bridge the gap between the product demanded and what is sold. I wonder how chicken tikka pizza made a place in the menu of Italian cuisine, however, people are buying and seem to love it too.
Posist: According to your experience, what are the food trends to look forward to in future?
Shivang Gupta: Current food trends include smarter services and avant-garde technology to search for and get food delivered. With the advent of myriad web services and apps to offer online food reviews, food photography, placing orders and others food-related services, consumers want to try all these latest tech and trends of the food industry. Hence, the more you include new technologies and something off the hook in your food business, the more you will be able to attract customers.
Posist: Currently, there is a significant shift from fine dining to casual dining noticed, driven by growing base of young consumers – what is the future scope of growth lies in fine and casual dining areas of Indian restaurant industry?
Shivang Gupta: Indeed, the fashion of fine dining is turning into a thing of history with casual dining gradually taking the place. And it’s not only the younger people who are frequenting at casual dining, bistro, Al fresco or lounges; many times, they are accompanied by their family including older people. I have seen older people visiting my restaurants and lounges to enjoy sheeshas and drinks on their own and sometimes, with their children or grandchildren.
Posist: What type of latest restaurant technologies are necessary to automate operations, accelerate customer acquisition and sustaining rising competition?
Shivang Gupta: Restaurateurs need a robust system to perform comprehensive data analysis and stay connected to the digital media to listen to customers, track own growth and that of competitors, newer trends and to attain complete control over operations. Not to forget, your POS solution has been an invention itself and has helped me gain better control over my restaurant operations. Furthermore, I expect you guys to add tools to connect with the online media to trace the growth and ditch holes to be able to modify our line of control accordingly.