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 Home > City Resources > Food and Dining > THE FOOD & BEVERAGES SECTOR

Srinivasan N D
Khaana Khazana
Restaurants and Bars in Coimbatore
Rava Kesari
Coconut Burfi
Green chutney
Coconut chutney

Srinivasan N D has an ebullience that is infectious.  This young Food and Beverages Manager of the up and coming three star property CAG Pride is full of fresh ideas and the energy to go with it. speaks to him on the F & B scene in Coimbatore. 

What is the profile of customers frequenting your in-house restaurants?

Upper middle class and the businessmen, I would say.  For breakfast, it is 100% resident guests because it is complimentary.  For lunch, the percentage of resident guests is negligible and the majority is outside guests.  For dinner again, it is the resident guests who patronise the restaurants and room service.  I would put 70% for resident guests patronising the in-house restaurants for dinner.

What do you feel is the potential of the market in Coimbatore?

Coimbatore suffered a drawback with the bomb blasts. That definitely put us back by a few years.  It is growing fast and I would say the recovery started immediately after the bomb blasts.  The market has potential, there is no doubt about it.  The basic advantage as the far as the potential for the F & B market goes is the very fact that there are very few other options when it comes to entertainment in Coimbatore.  The easiest option therefore for families, when it comes to entertainment, is eating out.  In that sense I believe the market has a lot of potential.

On manpower requirements in this industry?

Manpower is available in plenty, but quality manpower is not available.  The reason why this problem is there is because of the pay scale.  In Coimbatore, the pay scale is too low.  The market structure is like that.  Because the promotions and monetary benefit is not there, people do not stick to one place.

Compared to other cities where does Coimbatore stand in terms of the volume of business done?

Not much, I would say, because the market is very conservative and people have really not come forward to either explore the market nor has there been any positive response from the people.  People here are not experimentative.

What do you think drives the choice of the Coimbatore diner?

Most of the customers keep changing their preferences.  The most visible trend in the market at present is that of shifting loyalties.

What do you think would ensure the loyalty of patrons?

Personal touch.  There are many restaurants that offer the same quality and fare.  What will make a difference and will ensure customer loyalty in the long run will be the personal touch that goes along with the service.  That is the best way to ensure customer loyalty.

Why is it that there does not seem to be much stress on food festivals here?

Once or twice we have tried and the response has been very poor.  So food festivals will have to wait for some more time till the market opens up and the people start to experiment a little more.

What is the set up for the F & B department in a typical three star property like this?

The day never ends.  We have a 24-hour coffee shop and room service and then the restaurants.  From 7.00 am to 10:30 am it is Breakfast and the crowd is heavy depending on the occupancy of the rooms, because the breakfast is complimentary.  From 12.00 pm to 3.00 pm it is lunch and Dinner from 7.00 pm to midnight.  There is one Manager, one Executive Chef, one junior Executive Chef, one Senior Captain, Junior Captains, Trainee Captains, Senior Stewards, Junior Steward, Trainee Steward, RSOT’s (Room Service Order Takers) and trainees doing their internship.  That is how the workforce is set up on the serving side.  On the production side there is the Chef de Partie, cooks and Commies, who locally we would call ‘Master’.  Each cuisine has two Commies, except for Chinese. 

The branding and positioning of the restaurants is done with everybody involved.  Just one person can’t possibly do it; teamwork has to go into this.  Every week we have a HOD’s meeting with the General Manager, where we put forward all our requirements and suggestions.  Down the line there is also regular interaction with the staff every fortnight.

How are targets set for the restaurants?

The targets are set keeping in mind the last year’s performance and also indicators towards the current year's performance like price conditions, room occupancy and so on.  Once the target is achieved the next target can go only higher.

How important is ambience when it comes to a restaurant?

Very important.  Lovely food, served beautifully, in a bad ambience will result in loss of clients.  A lot of importance has to be given to ambience.  But again ambience is not all about spending several crores of rupees and getting an expensive interior, but it is about identifying what you want and getting a fantastic ambience to go in with your theme without spending too much.  Nowadays if you notice people prefer a lot of greenery.

But remember, it is not just the bowl that counts, but what the bowl contains is also important.  In the process of getting a fabulous ambience one should not forget that food has to be good, the pricing has to be right and the quality of service – excellent.

Negative publicity is the worst enemy of any restaurateur.  One cannot afford to displease or lose even one customer.  That is the first lesson that we all learn in the hospitality industry – ‘the guest is always right even if he is wrong’.

Text - Joseph Pradeep Raj
Photographs - V Ganesan
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