Cloud Kitchen is silver lining of Covid-19 pandemic: Restaurateur Zorawar Kalra
Restaurateur Zorawar Kalra, who is the founder and managing director of Massive Restaurants, was in the city recently to attend the Kolkata Chapter of National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI)'s marquee series Energise Your Business event. While he was interacting with the industry leaders, on the sidelines India Blooms correspondent Souvik Ghosh catches up with Kalra, who shares his plans, lends advices to young entrepreneurs and more
Excerpts of the conversation...
Q. What advice would you give to the young people planning to come to this business?
A. They (young entrepreneurs) should come into the industry for the right reasons. No one should open restaurants as an extension of his/her drawing room, but with passion. They should come up with the product which they think would provide itself to the niche in the already very difficult and tight industry. Another piece of advice is no one should consider this profession as a 9-5 pm job. It's a passion-driven project and a lifestyle choice.
Kalra is the son Czar of Indian cuisine late Jiggs Kalra
Q. What was the most disheartening part of Covid-19 pandemic in your business?
A. The most disheartening part of the entire Covid-19 pandemic was the fact that 33 percent of the total restaurants that existed in India shut down permanently. Those restaurants were made by the blood and sweat of many or maybe their life savings! People's dreams and hopes were shut down because of circumstances which were beyond our control. So I think it's very important to take measured steps if someone wants to come into this business.
Q. Every industry came up with new ways to survive after Covid-19 pandemic. What was your way to bounce back?
A. Everybody had to make a lot of changes. We had to look at cost-cutting, maybe shutting some restaurants which were not affordable, checking the food costs, working with vendors, looking at restaurant-level employees' costs. A lot of the costs had to be looked at in order to survive because sales were zero, restaurants were shut and the deliveries were shut for sometime. So everybody had to tighten their belts.
Kalra had hosted the fifth season of MasterChef India
Q. How did you start your first Cloud Kitchen and how do you assess your situation in the sector now?
A. I think the Cloud Kitchen is an olive branch to the industry, especially for the young people. It is the least risky entry into this space. It is better than opening a food court outlet or even better than opening a cart. I think it's the silver lining of Covid. It was always there in the name of dark kitchens or virtual restaurants. It is a fantastic way for people to enter into the business without taking too many risks.
I would have laughed if somebody had asked me about deliveries in Feb 2020. The seed of the idea of opening cloud specific restaurants came to my mind after Covid hit. We have spent ample time building brands. We have got two brands now in multiple states.
Q. What are your plans with respect to Kolkata?
A. I am very excited to be here. I want to open more and more restaurants here. Actually I am very keen to take Bengali food to the rest of the world as well. So I am working on a concept which I can't reveal now. It is one of those things that are under the wraps. I am very excited too about the future of the industry.
(Images by Avishek Mitra/IBNS)