Pawan Shahri is a great example of the evolving face of the hospitality industry. Pawan has been an entrepreneur since the young age of 16 when he founded Chrome Nightlife & Entertainment, an event marketing & production company. He took a new direction in his career when one of his clients offered him work at his F&B venture. Currently, Pawan is the managing Partner at a host of businesses, including London Taxi, The Bigg Small Cafe + Bar, Oi – Kitchen & Bar and Butterfly High – BKC.
In Conversation With Pawan Shahri of Butterfly High – BKC
In an exclusive conversation with The Restaurant Times, Pawan Shahri talks of his journey in the industry, the story behind his restaurants, choosing the right concept, and a lot more.
Choosing The Casual-Dine/Bar Concept
Despite the glamor associated with the hospitality industry, the restaurant business is notoriously competitive. Its seasonality, changing customer preferences, and constant supervision required from entrepreneurs are just some factors that contribute to an absurdly high mortality rate. For Shahri, his introduction to the hospitality business was primarily because of alcohol. Beer consumption in India stands at a mere 1.5 liter per person as compared to the average value of 22 liters for the rest of the world.
With evolving time and trends, consumers favor dining at a place serving both great food and alcohol.
“A casual-dine concept is surely more profitable because there is volume. Fine dining does not generate volumes. A casual-dine business is also economical,” says Shahri.
Among the several benefits offered by a casual-dine format, ease of expansion is the most notable one. Because of the scale of investment, it becomes easier to expand, which also makes their operations nimble and viable.
Selecting A New Geography to Widen the Restaurant Base
Pawan’s methodology for expansion and selecting a particular geography is connected to the culture of a location, pairing it with modern details that truly make a unique space. Here are some factors he keeps in mind while selecting a new geography:
- Good Mix of Residents and Corporates: According to Shahri, particular geography should not be dominated, solely by either of the two. A healthy mix of residents and corporates helps in generating a good crowd profile consisting of consumers of all age groups. This helps in catering to all segments of the menu as well.
- Analyzing the Number of Colleges: Shahri shares that another factor that is crucial while selecting particular geography is analyzing the number of colleges in the vicinity. College students frequently rely on off-premise food services for their meals. Fast-food consumption among college students is very common during lunch and evening hours. It also adds to the footfall at the restaurant.
- Open All Night Policy for Restaurants: Another factor to be kept in mind is investigating whether that particular area is included in the 24*7 open policy of the local government. Having an open policy promotes a vibrant nightlife and also assists in growing business opportunities for restaurants.
Overcoming Challenges While Running A Bar
Understanding what the common challenges are while running a bar and how to fix them can help a restaurateur to thrive in the hospitality industry. Here are some challenges and how Pawan takes care of them:
- Price Pont Competition: In the restaurant industry, the art of pricing food begins with understanding the science of food costs. According to Shahri, pricing a menu is tricky business: pricing dishes too high will turn off consumers. Pricing them too low will cut deep into the profit margins. Along with considering the food costs, having a solid restaurant competitive menu pricing strategy is key to being successful. Shahri mentions that their brand value lies in the experience they provide and customers will come back even if there are price differences
- Maintaining Consistency: Consumers identify your brand with the taste and hospitality you offer, hence, it is essential to maintain consistency. Along with having a central kitchen and pre-defined SOPs, training your kitchen staff is equally important to maintain consistency throughout. Shahri takes care that consistency is maintained throughout the outlets by keeping these points in mind.
- Strict Crowd Profiling: Shahri follows a robust crowd management strategy at all his bars by allowing entry on the basis of strict profiling. Creating the right crowd is a challenge that requires continuous effort. He mentions that they make sure that they bring in the best people so that they create a safe environment and patrons inside are not worried about the people sitting at the next table.
Ensuring Corporate Social Responsibility
Restaurant owners have realized the significance of corporate social responsibility in terms of doing the right thing for their employees, the community and the environment. It has certainly become an essential aspect of the F&B business. There are numerous ways by which restaurants are showing their interest and care for their consumers and society as a whole. According to Shahri, the restaurant industry as an industry caters to all the segments of the society
He mentions that they follow the CSR very strictly, internally as well as externally. Taking care of their employees and recognizing their work by giving bonuses and also pushing them to unleash their potential is an important part of their team. They have a team that caters to the employees and nurtures them.
Apart from this, during Independence Day and Republic Day, they raise funds for charity through various events in order to contribute to the betterment of society. Everything counts – from rightly treating your employees to giving your customers excellent service – which forms the abiding principle of the restaurant business. Catering to the Community is a necessity.
While concluding, Sahri shares that they plan to expand Butterfly High and London Taxi and across India.