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. Coimbatorebest.com speaks to him on the F
& B scene in Coimbatore.
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
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?
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
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