The restaurant industry that was once referred to as male-centric is now going through a metamorphosis with women increasingly taking the lead. These women have not only managed to become changemakers with their innovative ideas but they’ve also proven time and again that they have what it takes to be the driving force in the F&B space. On the occasion of women’s day, The Restaurant Times is celebrating the spirit of 10 Indian women leaders who are truly an inspiration for aspiring F&B entrepreneurs.
10 Inspiring Indian Women Reshaping The Future Of The Restaurant Business
On the occasion of International Women’s Day, we have decided to profile 10 powerful and inspiring women who are spearheading the growth of the culinary and restaurant space in India.
A designer by profession and without having any prior experience in the F&B fraternity, Puja Sahu is a fine example of resourcefulness and grit. She is the brains behind The Potbelly, the first-ever fine-dine Bihari restaurant of India. The Potbelly was started in 2012 with a personal investment.
In just 8 years, Puja and her co-founder, Vivita Relan managed to expand the restaurant to 4 locations. Despite knowing the risks of bringing the relatively unknown Bihari cuisine to the forefront, the duo decided to begin the venture and create an exhilarating culinary experience that imbibes the richness of Bihar.
Ramya Ravi is the Director of Nandhana Group, best known for its multi-cuisine restaurant specializing in Andhra style delicacies. She has been actively involved in building the customer experience for the group.
Ramya introduced modern management best practices and technology solutions to the company, creating a remarkable difference in the functioning of the 13 chain restaurant. Under her leadership, Nanadhana has had the honor of winning the India Hospitality Award for two consecutive years, 2015 & 2016.
Minu Budhia, a psychotherapist and counselor by profession, started ICanFlyy Cafe along with her elder daughter, Preeyam Budhia. The USP of the place is that it is the first of its kind cafe in India which is run by special-needs young individuals. Drawing motivation from her younger daughter who is a special needs child herself, Minu established ICanFlyy, an institute for special needs.
The institute provides vocational training in a secure and professional environment for mentally-challenged people. The cafe was started with the sole purpose of empowering the differently-abled and expressing gratitude towards special needs children.
Hailing from an IT background, Meghna Vakada started Barley and Grapes, a casual dining eatery in 2013. The restaurant brand owned by Meghana and her husband, offers customers a new way of experiencing top-quality food in Bangalore. Barley & Grapes is a pocket-friendly cafe that is high on flavor and offers a selective beer and wine bar menu.
Apart from B&G, Meghna also runs Andhra Kafe and Blyton in Bangalore. According to Meghana, maintaining brand consistency, streamlining the in-house processes with SOPs, and strategizing beyond the day-to-day operations is the key to succeed in the restaurant industry.
Jyoti Ganapathi also comes from a non-F&B background, but her love for South Indian cuisine propelled her to open Dosa Inc, a food truck brand that serves the traditional South Indian meal. Dosa Inc is famous for authentic South Indian cuisine and continues to prepare dishes using age-old family recipes.
During the pandemic, apart from growing the food truck business, Jyoti continued to innovate Dosa Inc, worked on an alternate product line, and streamlined the workflow with the support of a robust supply chain.
A passionate cook since the age of 10, Anahita Dhondy, has been one of the key chefs behind the authentic Parsi recipes at SodaBottleOpenerWala. Along with being the Chef Partner, Anahita heads up the entire business operations of SodaBottleOpenerWala Gurgaon and the catering division of the brand in Delhi NCR.
Dhondy accepts the fact that the food industry is male-dominated but advises the budding young female chefs to be prepared to flex their muscles and pull up their socks. Anahita has bagged several awards, including the Young Chef India award and the Times Food Award.
Sukriti Singh Rao is the Co-Founder and Director of NYC.PIE, a gourmet pizzeria specializing in New York style thin-crust pizzas. She is also a PR Professional having 10 years of experience having worked with some of the finest PR firms such as Perfect Relations, PR Pundit, Star India, etc. With NYC.PIE, Sukriti is aiming to create a niche brand with an international dining experience catering to the domestic crowd.
After identifying a gap in the dessert market in Hyderabad, Swati Upadhyay along with her husband started Concu in 2012. A self-funded venture, Concu is an elegant patisserie that offers a range of signature desserts, cakes, and beverages in a cozy, European-like ambiance. Swati ensures that the baked items served at Concu are of high quality and emphasizes heavily on maintaining consistency across each restaurant brand to build brand loyalty among customers.
Raised in Delhi, Saloni Brahmachari started Tandoor Box in Bangalore in 2016. Known popularly for its ‘Dilli Zaika’ flavor, Tandoor Box is all about serving the easy, smokey, broiling goodness of food cooked in a tandoor.
The USP of the brand is that it uses ingredients that are transported straight from Delhi every day and delivers food in meal boxes that are eco-friendly and disposable. To run a successful restaurant business, Saloni gives credit to keeping the products fresh, maintaining consistency, and delivering quick service.
Manvi is the director and founder of PIER 38, a cocktail bar located in Gurgaon. It is popularly known for its stunning decor, drinks, and Indian-Arabic fusion food. Pier 38 had to face a lot of difficulties including the consequences of a Supreme Court ruling aimed at banning the sale of alcohol within 500 meters of state and national highways. Keeping up a fierce spirit and a positive attitude towards her business venture, Swati overcame all the hurdles and has been successful in taking her business to new levels.
Kudos to the spirit of these inspiring women!
Happy Women’s Day!