Sahil Arora is a Chef by profession and is the Co-Founder of 266 Wine Room in Mumbai. He did his Bachelor’s in marketing and was always interested in entering the hospitality industry. Arora worked at Olive Delhi and learned under the expert guidance of Chef Saby. In order to improvise his knowledge and skills in this industry, he moved to Australia to pursue a degree in Culinary Arts.
As soon as he was back to India, he joined another company and started working there but soon he realized he wanted to open his own restaurant. Arora did his research thoroughly on ‘How to open a restaurant’, to know in-depth about the Do’s and Dont’s in this industry and soon he built his own lounge, 266 Wine Room in Bandra.
In Conversation With Sahil Arora of 266 Wine Room
In an exclusive conversation with The Restaurant Times, Sahil Arora talks of his journey in the industry, the story behind 266 Wine Room, ensuring customer satisfaction, staff retention and a lot more.
Determining the acceptable rent for your restaurant is critical to your success. The general rule of thumb is your total occupancy cost (rent and additional fees for property taxes, insurances, etc.) should not exceed 6-10% of your gross sales. The rental prices are an issue in Mumbai but Arora feels its a part of the game and it cannot be avoided.
Initially, he had to face issues while doing kitchen trials because he was unable to find the right people being a newcomer in Mumbai. Kitchen Trialling is an activity, which requires to assess the skills and training of a cooking job candidate. Arora had to buy all the groceries himself from the market and also, the items required for the restaurant including tables, chairs, etc.
The food service industry is almost wholly dependent on human capital. Restaurant staffing, that is, hiring and retaining talent remains one of the biggest challenges of running a restaurant. Due to the staffing issue, Arora was delayed in opening the outlet by 15 days.
“Not being a native of Mumbai, I had a lot of issue in finding the right staff. Initially, I had to provide the staff with accommodation too,” says Arora.
Importance Of Location
In the early stage of the business, you have to determine the location for setting up a restaurant. Owing to the rise in competition, good ambiance and food alone cannot help you to stay in the business. You can attract more customers to visit restaurants when the location is worth appreciation.
According to Arora, “Credibility is a major challenge in Mumbai.”
Mumbai is known for high rentals and scarcity of space. It can be troublesome for someone who is not a native to find a suitable location in Mumbai. The landlords are usually not willing to rent out their land to a newcomer. When he initially came to Mumbai, it was a major task for him to find a proper location. The landlords were not willing to rent him the place because he was not a native of Mumbai. Not only the landlords but the suppliers were also reluctant in providing the equipment and also is issuing a credit note.
The restaurant industry is a competitive one. There are more dining establishments and more diners now than during any other time in history. To fill a niche and remain relevant as well as established, restaurants have to hedge their bets with well-rounded and well-directed market research. Market research provides valuable insights regarding market trends and evolving consumer lifestyles so that restaurants of all types can better address and meet public demand.
According to Arora, the Mumbai crowd is ready to experiment and is always ready to try out something new.
‘I did a research among my own network and facebook by circulating an online survey to know more about the consumers in the market,’ says Arora.
Apart from this, he used to explore Mumbai on his own and spend time at various locations. He would observe the crowd and keep a track of where they are going, what type of food are they consuming, etc. Arora would spend half an hour at a few restaurants to perceive the average time a customer would spend at a particular restaurant.
Importance of Employee Management
Most employees will have some weaknesses in their workplace skills. A training program allows you to strengthen those skills that each employee needs to improve. Increased productivity and adherence to quality standards. Productivity usually increases when a company implements training courses. The bartenders have regular in house training at 266 Wine Room.
According to Arora, it is the attitude of the staff that matters the most. Employees can have either a positive or negative attitude about specific work tasks, products or services, co-workers or management, or the company as a whole. Bad attitudes result in apathy to daily tasks. Positive attitudes among employees make workdays more enjoyable and they are willing to learn and implement new stuff.
‘I believe in my staff as they are very versatile and all the staff members help each other. No one is allotted for a specific work,’ says Arora.
Secret Sauce To Success
With so many culinary options and different dining styles available to customers these days, competition in the restaurant industry is fiercer than ever. To build a thriving, successful, and long-term business in foodservice, restauranteurs have to start getting creative to make their restaurants stand out from the competition.
According to Arora, it is important to be passionate to be in the industry. If someone is keen on opening a restaurant, he/she should act upon the idea as soon as possible. It is better to start with a franchise first. Starting with a franchise first helps one to analyze the challenges while operating a restaurant business, revenue generated, etc and gives a fair idea of the foodservice business.
‘Only when you do it on your own, you’ll be able to learn and comprehend better,’ says Arora.