Fine dining operator Speciality Restaurants says it will focus on its ‘fun dining’ brands as it rolls out 24 new eateries over the next two years.
The group currently operates 123 restaurants, a mix of fine dining destinations branded Mainland China and Oh! Calcutta, and what it terms ‘fun’ brands – Mainland China Asia Kitchen, Cafe Mezzuna and Hoppipola.
Executive Anjan Chatterjee says from now on the company will more or less equally split its capital investment evenly between the two channels – fun and fine dining.
“At least 50 per cent of restaurants we open in 2016 and 2017 will be fun dining. The vertical will help us maintain leadership in the fine and casual dining restaurants and confectioneries market. Over the years, we have developed a dedicated client base that is sophisticated and appreciates fine dining. But there is another group that is as important who want an informal atmosphere and a fun dining experience,” he said in an interview with the Times of India at the opening of a new Asia Kitchen restaurants at the Acropolis Mall.
“They are young customers with disposable incomes. We have developed brands for them and will now expand this vertical.”
The company is also pursuing opportunities to expand overseas.
With two restaurants in Bangladesh and two in Tanzania, it is about to open its first outlet in Doha. Chatterjee is seeking locations for new restaurants in London and New York.
Specialty Restaurants also has a small collection of quick service restaurants – one each trading under the brands Zoodles, Shack, Kibbeh and Kix.
Chatterjee believes consumer dining preferences are changing.
“Traditionally, people went to a restaurant and had their fill. But the trend has changed. They have become small eaters for health and economic reasons. Food is expensive and people don’t want large portions that will lead to wastage or a doggy bag. For instance, if a portion of mocha chop contained eight pieces, we have now introduced a regular portion that has four pieces. The regular size is good for two. If there are three or more, customers have the option of ordering one more. It is good on the pocket too and will encourage customers to come back more often. We don’t want price to be a barrier,” he said.
Specialty Restaurants has already introduced regular portions at Mainland China and Oh! Calcutta.