Authenticity is the biggest crowd puller into a restaurant. To offer authenticity, a restaurant entrepreneur need not hire a celebrity chef or spend excessively on décor. Ultimately, people talk about the food and return to a restaurant for its cuisine more than any other experience they’ve had.
Home-grown concepts have proved to create successful business models and are increasingly giving international brands a run for their money by focusing on the essentials – good food served in a clean and comfortable environment, which could be a street food stall, food truck, or a restaurant in a prime location.
Whether it’s fining dining or street food, if food entrepreneurs can find their calling, they will be able to identify their strengths early on and focus on improving those strengths rather than taking risky steps without any preparation.
If you plan to enter the restaurant business just to make money, you have misunderstood the nature of this business. Enter the food service business only if you believe in your cuisine and in your guests, and their satisfaction will lead to your revenue. Meanwhile, also think about what is enticing for you as much as what is enticing for the customer.
Your passion for your business will enable you to draw a roadmap for it. Every entrepreneur does not have the privilege of obtaining sufficient funding to sustain their business for the first few years. A start-up venture plush with funds initially doesn’t guarantee its success. Having fewer resources will teach you their value and help you utilize them to their full potential. If you start small with a good concept and have a good business plan with realistic growth projections, it won’t be difficult to convince venture capitalists to invest in your idea and help you expand.
Simplicity is the game changer
There’s no right or wrong cuisine or format. Your customer will judge your establishment for what you promise them and what they experience. Focus on delivering what you say you will deliver. You can achieve this through simplicity and passion for the food you are offering. You don’t need to have an elaborate menu. You could be successful with just one or two dishes if you get the right combination of flavours, serving size and pricing. If you’re creative, you could do a lot with the real estate space and ingredients you are able to afford.
Conceptualization of restaurant has come full circle. The focus of new F&B entrepreneurs is shifting from having the best locations, menus and pricing to developing native cuisines and local dishes they grew eating. This approach gives the opportunity to innovate traditional dishes with new flavours.
Saigon Shack, a Vietnamese restaurant, in New York often has a long waiting time for a bowl of Pho, a soup. The small place has managed to generate interest in its menu and ambience despite its minimal investment and setting. This is a great example of street food taking on other elaborate cuisines. In the UAE, not being allowed to set up a road side stall shouldn’t be an excuse to not open a street food concept. Bikanervala in the UAE is an Indian street food concept supplemented with dine-in options. It ticks all the right boxes–street food, fast food from snacks to meals, value for money, home food and healthy food–which is why the brand has a huge following. I believe street food concepts have huge potential in the UAE if they are done right.