Swati Upadhyay and her husband, Chef Sahil Taneja, both engineers by education, started Concu, in 2012. They both completed their studies in the UK. Taneja pursued his pastry-making dream at West London College and also worked at Patisserie Valerie and Harrods in London. Upadhyay did her M.Sc in Environmental Consultancy from Newcastle University.
Deeply reflective and self-critical, Upadhyay along with her husband, identified a gap in the dessert market of Hyderabad, as there were only a handful of places in Hyderabad. Concu is an elegant patisserie offering a range of signature desserts, cakes and beverages in a cosy, European- inspired ambience.
In Conversation With Swati Upadhyay of Concu
In an exclusive conversation with The Restaurant Times, Swati Upadhyay talks of her journey in the industry, the story behind Concu, culinary trends in Hyderabad and a lot more.
The Story Behind Concu
In French ‘Concu’, translates as crafted or designed and true to its name the cakes are designed with creativity and care. It specialises in European-style confectionery and bespoke celebration cakes, mostly customised.
After completing their studies in the UK, when Updhayay and her husband moved back to Hyderabad, they initially started with a 800 square feet outlet and spread the news through word of mouth that they are taking orders. Concu was predominantly focussed on European desserts because they wanted to offer something different from the American desserts which are generally too fudgy or too sweet. Upadhyay mentions that they were the first ones to start with Macarons in Hyderabad, only few had an idea back then about the concept of Macarons.
Gradually, the team began to grow. The demand for desserts and cakes started increasing and pre-ordering gained steam. That is when they moved to their second location which was twice as big as the first. They have expanded their menu from cakes and desserts to salads, pizzas and burgers. The entrepreneur couple currently has two outlets in Hyderabad.
Upadhyay adds that the USP of Concu is that it is a one-stop-shop for a variety of confectionery products – from fancy customised cakes, cookies, packaged products to all varieties of quick bites. Concu surely offers the best of both worlds!
Culinary Trends In Hyderabad
Just like in any art form, trends in the culinary world are constantly shifting to reflect the ever-changing interests and needs of people. Keeping up with these trends is important to restaurant owners, chefs, and really anyone working in the food service industry. The past few years have marked a significant change as the food culture shifts towards higher quality food and expediency.
According to Upadhyay, back in 2012, dessert options in Hyderabad included a lot of Indian sweets which were quite popular, especially the Karachi biscuits. There was also a lot of molecular gastronomy happening at that time. Molecular gastronomy is a subdiscipline of food science that seeks to investigate the physical and chemical transformations of ingredients that occur in cooking.
In general, Upadhyay mentions that Hyderabad is a sucker for trends. Currently, there is a trend for cafes and coffee shops. According to a report published by NRAI, the per capita coffee consumption in India is 80 gm a year, whereas in developed countries it is 8kg a year. However, of late, the café culture has witnessed a boom due to aggressive expansion by established brands.
It has become more of a lifestyle for the young population nowadays. Cafes are becoming popular in hang-out destinations. At the same time, the evolving consumer lifestyles have given rise to other beverage-based outlets such as tea lounges, liquor cafes, chocolate cafes, and juice/smoothie cafes.
‘In Hyderabad, they have dessert shops in every other lane,’ says Upadhyay.
Upadhyay feels blessed to have started Concu at the right time and at the right location. At Concu, they strive to achieve the finest and they do not compare themselves with the local competition, rather they look at the worldwide market and draw fresh ideas from it!
Importance Of Maintaining Consistency
The sweet tooth craves more than just desserts. With no conventional menu at Concu, flavours change with the seasons and the chef’s creativity. There is a range of desserts offered along with the quick bites that are both appetizing and distinct. Upadhyay addresses one of the biggest challenges she faced while being in the industry: sourcing good quality ingredients. The volume at which they sell is enormous for which they require a lot of ingredients.
“It is difficult to find suppliers who provide the same quality of ingredients over a period of time. We keep trying out new local places to source the raw materials. Some of the vendors we have built a relationship have been supplying us consistently for the past seven years now,” says Upadhyay.
Restaurants that excel in the area of consistency are the ones which thrive. According to Upadhyay, maintaining consistency across restaurant outlets is extremely important as it helps build brand loyalty among customers. She ensures that the food items served at Concu are of high quality.
For consistency to be maintained, ingredients play a major role. It influences every aspect of one’s restaurant performance. Customers prefer consistency in the quality of food, customer service, the cleanliness of your restaurant and bathroom and overall ambience you provide.
Technology is designed to make life easier. It has always had a strong, positive impact on the restaurant industry. The combination just makes sense. Restaurants want to deliver a flawless, convenient and enjoyable experience to their customers. Technology offers a means to speed up processes and improve customer experience. Thereby, achieving the goals of the restaurant.
A complete POS software in restaurants allows you to punch-in incoming orders, intimate the kitchen by printing KOTs, print receipts, track orders, manage customer database, all at once. An ideal POS is easy to set-up, is user-friendly, works offline, provides advanced analytics, aggregates third-party orders and also integrates seamlessly with CRM software. Upadhyay has been using POSist at Concu.
“We have been using POSist for the past five years. The software is very versatile. The billing software specifically helps me to get an accurate assessment of the bills and keeps a record of all the fraudulent activities. It has surely made life simpler,” says Upadhyay.
Upadhyay concludes by saying that, at the end of the day, her goal is to take care of her one hundred and fifty employees, whom she treats like family. She feels delighted to have made a mark in Hyderabad, which would not have been possible without them!