Anmol Mehta, Managing Partner, Little Italy UAE, has over 8 years of experience in the hospitality industry. Starting his career as a dishwasher, he is now the Managing Director of Little Italy UAE. He has made a name for himself with his ‘can do’ attitude, extreme passion for customer service and creating innovative strategies for the restaurant industry.
Having a love for food and a degree from Les Roches International School of Hotel Management, Mehta also is a prominent figure in UAE’s hospitality circle. With experience in UAE, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and India, his mission is to spread the sheer joy of food all over the GCC Market; by helping all restaurants to grow in the right market conditions. His one and the only motto is ” There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money!
In Conversation With Anmol Mehta, Managing Partner, Little Italy, UAE
In an exclusive conversation with The Restaurant Times, Anmol Mehta, Managing Partner, Little Italy, UAE, discusses the factors that have contributed to the success of Little Italy and how ‘customer is the king’ stands true for every aspect in the F&B industry.
Success Mantra Of Little Italy
According to Anmol, the biggest and the most important factor that attributes to the success of a restaurant is the way you treat your customers, from the time they come into the restaurant until they leave. The second most essential factor that has worked in favour of Little Italy is choosing the right target market.
“Little Italy is a vegetarian Italian restaurant. We generally target the ones who are vegan, or vegetarian in general, to which we started realising a huge growth in the market when it comes to Italian food. I know for a fact that we are projecting approximately 10.4% of growth in the industry for the next 10 years, which is a huge amount of growth from what it used to be before. So that’s one thing that has helped us tremendously”, says Anmol Mehta
Another major factor that Anmol highlights is the owner’s involvement.
It is always important for a restaurant owner to be present on the premises to make sure that everything is going right.
Food cost control as Anmol mentions is a major attribute that greatly contributes to the success of a restaurant. One can reduce food costs by implementing innovative ideas in the dishes and adopting new technologies. The brand has a central kitchen in Pune and sources all their ingredients including the sauces from Pune. As the ingredients are sourced in bulk, this greatly leads to a decrease in food costs because we do it in bulk.
Anmol also mentions another key metric that is important for the success of a restaurant, i.e staff satisfaction. “We started realising that if you keep your staff happy, the staff keeps the customer happy. And that is something that we did realise before, but could never implement it properly. But during and after the pandemic, we started focusing more on staff satisfaction and it created a huge difference in our strategies after that”, he adds.
Talking about the expansion plan, Anmol says that Little Italy has plans to expand in Al Barsha, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The brand also has plans to open a flagship outlet and then set up dark kitchens, cloud kitchens or hybrid kitchens.
While I realised that you will want to serve food, what the customer likes, not what you like them only then you can make the customer happy.
Little Italy UAE never focused more on the delivery model as deliveries only contributed to 10% of their sales. Anmol says that the percentage of delivery sales was less mostly because of the commission-based models of aggregators.
As soon as the brand established its own delivery system by setting up the website, mobile app and persuaded all the customers to order through phone and website, they observed an increase of revenue by 25%.
The concept of vegetarianism is increasing in the UAE restaurant industry. Little Italy offers an assorted menu of vegetarian dishes as more consumers are shifting towards adopting a vegetarian lifestyle. Like his brand, Anmol too believes in targeting the niche market of a specific region as a whole and offering the menu items according to the needs and wants of the consumers.
There’s one thing that I realized when I started my career, that you must serve food according to what the customer likes and not what you want. Then only would you be able to make the customer happy.
Advice To The Restaurateurs
Anmol recalls his early days of serving in a hotel and says that attending customers and serving food was never something that embarrassed him.
If your passion is to serve your customers great food and experience, follow your passion without feeling embarrassed.
He concludes the session with a positive note to the upcoming restaurant owners.
The restaurant industry is not about investment but more about the name. Don’t look at starting a restaurant as an investment. It is very important to start small and gradually make it big.
Watch Anmol Mehta in an exclusive F&B Talks Session With The Restaurant Times.