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Every consumers a self entitled critic

(09/17/2014)

Too many restaurants, and misinformed people entering the business, are the reasons why India's hospitality industry is failing, says Sanjeev Kapoor, adding there's greater pressure because of customers who can ruin reputations with an FB post.

Rather than MasterChef or some other international show, every 90s kid and his housewife mother remembers chef Sanjeev Kapoor and his khazana of khana. But these days, Kapoor is anything but a happy chef. According to him, the Indian restaurant business is going through its worst phase ever, without anyone even realising it. 'Dying businesses, inflation and excessive competition' have brought the hospitality industry down, he says. Add to that the 'business hi toh hai' mentality of restaurant owners and the pressure of customers-cum-critics who are ready to complain at the first sign of slack, and you have an industry that is "in deep trouble". In a chat with DT, Sanjeev Kapoor speaks his mind about some of his grievances with the Indian hospitality industry today. Excerpts:

Excess supply is never a good thing
People keep talking about the new restaurants that are coming up. New cuisines, international names, it's all very exciting. The industry is growing and that is good, but how can we ignore the fact that with this growth, the problems are growing manifold? Launch ke time pe sab party dete hain. Yahi restaurant kab band ho jaate hai, pata bhi nahi chalta. There is so much that is wrong with the restaurant business right now. High property rentals, high labour costs, inflation and the rising prices of basic ingredients - the restaurants have to deal with these things every day. There are many new restaurants coming up and that's good, but the market is still the same. It's simple economics - excess supply is never good.

Nobody admits if their business is failing
This is the dark secret of the restaurant business. Even if any owner is suffering losses, they will never admit it. It's about reputation. Once word spreads that a restaurant is not doing well, even regular customers stop going there. And then, there is no coming back from that. These days, restaurants keep coming up with schemes and offers all year round. Woh tadap rahe hote hain, toh yeh schemes nikaalte hain - nobody gets that. The consumer thinks that these offers are good for them, but ultimately, they are getting a sub-optimal experience. It's high time that people act a little a realistic about these problems, so that more entrepreneurs don't enter the industry clueless about its problems.

India mein sabko restaurant kholna hai
On a day-to-day basis, I meet people who want to discuss the prospect of opening a restaurant with me. The insiders don't share the dirty secret about the problems of the restaurant industry. So, outsiders think, 'Yeh toh achha business hai. India mein sabko restaurant kholna hai. Beta kuch nahi kar raha, chalo 1-1.5 crore ki investment hai, restaurant khol dete hain, beta settle ho jaayega.' It's just another business for them. Aur agar baat karo skills ya expertise ki, toh their response is 'khaana hi toh hai'. These people come and go, but they spoil the business for those who're actually passionate about food and are professionals. Having a 100 restaurants is not a good sign for the industry. Sau mein se 90 bakwaas ho, aur baaki 10 ka business bhi kharaab karen, then what's the point in that? Some years back, Hauz Khas Village was the biggest thing to have happened to Delhi. Ab toh, kitne restaurants mein kitne log aate hain. Abhi Cyber Hub ka yeh haal hai, dekho kitne saal chalta hai.

Expectations have increased
These days, every person who walks into a restaurant thinks they are a critic. The overall expectation level of Indian consumers has increased so much since the time we started. They're all well-travelled and well-exposed. Pehle toh Thai aur Japanese ke naam pe log kuch bhi khila dete the. But now, there's more pressure on the industry. Wahi baithe hue photo kheencho, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter - sab pe daal do. There is no scope for error. Ek dish galat hui and you're banned forever.

Source: Times of India.

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MasterChef Sanjeev Kapoor

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal www.sanjeevkapoor.com is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.