Sunny Kakar had no background in the FnB space. It was only when he moved to London for two years that he got introduced to the restaurant business through the part-time jobs that he took up there. The Hospitality sector had held him close for all the divine reasons since he had this immense love and passion for cooking since the very beginning. The idea for opening his own restaurant venture, came to him after he returned to India. While passing a corporate tower in Mohali, he noticed that there weren’t a lot of options that offered a proper food experience. The location and the lucrative opportunity gave him the final push and made him realize his culinary dream in the form of Malai Cafe.
Malai Cafe was created with the idea of providing great food and ambiance as per the demands of the target customer base, the corporate crowd, and is operational 24X7. Malai Cafe today is considered to be synonymous with fresh food. A place where everything is served light, wholesome and dynamic.
‘Malai Cafe is an ode to a basic ingredient used in food that is cream. It justifies the heart and soul of North India. It is a tribute to the love for this ingredient, and we use cream in all our items in one way or the other,’ says Kakar.
In Conversation With Sunny Kakar Of Malai Cafe
In an exclusive conversation with The Restaurant Times, Sunny Kakar shares his experiences in the restaurant space, the role of food presentation, including healthy food in the menu, and a lot more.
Food Has To Look Good To Taste Good
Restaurant owners and the chefs all over the world have not only comprehended in making specific dishes but have also succeeded in creating a story out of them, which is very important today. Food presentation is a crucial part of the customer experience, and most of the time, it can make or break the success of a meal.
According to Kakar, food presentation is not only about beautifying a dish, but it is also about utilizing the same ingredients and a little bit of preparation tweak to create a new item. Two items with the same elements have the ability to bring out a different experience with the help of proper food presentation and smart menu engineering.
‘Taking selfies and pictures and posting has become the second nature of the customers, especially the millennials. Keeping the tech-savvy world in our mind, we make sure to maintain a sync between the presentation and quality,’ says Kakar.
Malai Cafe ensures that even something as simple as Dal Makhni is able to attract the attention of the customers. It is also the best-rated, and most complimented menu item at the cafe. ‘While serving Dal Makhni and rice, we place a cavity in the center of the rice, pour the daal, and then add a dash of chutney. Keeping it subtle yet stylish is what Malai Cafe aims for.’ says Kakar.
Healthy Selection Of Food Choices
According to Kakar, food is a lot like fashion. To keep the customers hooked, it’s vital to regulate what food the menu is going to feature. Food trends such as locally grown or organic food will be influencing menus in the coming years. While not every innovative menu item will fit every restaurant concept and theme, incorporating a few elements into the menu can increase customer appeal. Also, traditional food items don’t have to be boring; there are many ways to introduce old favorites in new ways.
People today are very health conscious. In a world where healthy food is high on demand, restaurant owners have the responsibility of providing the best of food to their customers along with healthy eating.
‘Our salads are prepared without sauces; they are steamed in a pan to maintain their health factor. Salads have long been featured on our menus as an appetizer, main course, or side dish. Salads appeal to customers looking to eat a healthy light meal or something quick,’ says Kakar.
According to Kakar, restaurant owners have always been under pressure for hiring and managing the right set of staff. It is crucial to hold consistent staff meetings for ensuring great service and smooth operations. The best way to do this is by having planned sessions before each shift.
Employee attrition is common to the entire restaurant space, but if you train and mentor them the right way, this can be handled easily.
‘The staff needs to be communicated that if they stick to a place they certainly will grow. People knew that a restaurant specifically designed for the corporate space would see growth, and in the growth of the brand, the growth of the staff is to happen naturally. If the team aligns themselves with the company’s growth, the other things will automatically be taken care of.’ says Kakar.
Reaching The Break-even
According to Kakar, the break-even analysis is essential as it lets one determine what they need to sell, monthly or annually, to cover the costs of doing business. It is a crucial factor one should consider and plan both before starting a brand and while running the brand.
For a brand to be successful, it takes more than just having a beautiful ambiance and lip-smacking menu. If the entire flow of money and evaluation of the restaurants are not tracked, one will never be able to achieve the success or growth they aspire to. Gauging and estimating a restaurant’s performance based on several parameters and metrics is vital to make managerial and operational changes.
While Kakar started Malai Cafe out of passion, he was also practical about the financial aspects. ‘Sustainability for Malai cafe is to work seamlessly in all capacity. Whatever parameter we drive, it should run seamlessly for 12 months. There should not be any cash crunch. When we started the Malai cafe, the cash flow was decreasing by 30- 40%.
Intent matters, but it should go hand in hand with practical and financial aspects of a business,’ says Kakar.
According to Kakar, a Point of sale solution is like a blessing for restaurants owners. A POS system can be as critical for small restaurant brands as well as for a large brand. Automation is necessary for streamlining operations, and smart POS software makes it possible.
POSist is seamless. Everyone from school pass-outs to graduates can use the software and my staff feels empowered using the system efficiently. The best thing about POSist is how efficient it is in handling pilferages and leakages. I love how every feature is so simple yet impactful.
Kakar concludes by sharing his future plans. ‘My plan succeeds in the objective of providing the best experience to the customers while not being influenced by the western concept that is otherwise becoming a trendsetter now. Wherever we go in the next one year we surely are going to have a core menu, but at the same time we will maintain a demographic menu change,’ says Kakar.