Know the Difference Between Perception and Reality: Rahul Khanna, Director, Azure Hospitality

BW Hotelier had a small chat with Rahul Khanna, Director, Azure Hospitality where he spoke about the industry and more.

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AZURE HOSPITALITY, a New Delhi-based company that runs a pan-Asian cafe chain under its flagship brand Mamagoto has 35 restaurants through six brands in major cities. With a plan to open more outlets in select Indian cities and in the U.K. organically and through acquisitions, the company aims for 65 restaurants over the next three years by investing Rs 172 crore. BW Hotelier had a small chat with Rahul Khanna, Director, Azure Hospitality where he spoke about the industry and more.

Being an established player in the restaurant industry, where according to you is the industry heading?

The fundamentals of the Indian consumer growth starry is still strong however the last 12-18 months have been hard with combined effects of demonetization, loss of input credit on GST and the highway liquor ban have hit the industry hard. Legislators and government agencies need to take a look at providing the right climate for this fast-growing industry to thrive as this coupled with further challenges in license procurements has dampened the spirit and curbed the entrepreneurial spirit of this business.

How your educational background has helped you to evolve as a person you are today?

I really think that structured learning at EHL (École Hôtelière de Lausanne, Switzerland based institute) did a world of good to me and expanded my worldview in terms of what I wished to do. But I see education as two-fold – one was what was learnt in class what I paid a fee for. The other was the various internships and jobs across the world, meeting all kinds of people while travelling and imbibing culture, gastronomy along the way which is priceless. Both these factors on a blended level help you arrive at the person you are, not just with your professional being and the skills, abilities and mentality it brings but also the overall person you mould into – experiences define to a great degree the value systems and life philosophies you believe in. Evolution is constant, so the education and enquiry never end.

What tips would you give to the new budding restaurateur?

Know the difference between perception and reality. don’t get fooled by the false glamour attached to this industry. This is serious, never-ending, hard work with a strong dose of people management and cannot be done sitting in an air-conditioned room. Know what it feels like to work 18-hour shifts, to wash dishes, to work on new years’ eve to understand the depths of empathy you will need to succeed. Learn quickly how to balance practicality with creativity and never compromise.

What new do you plan to put in in your company's portfolio?

We typically open 15 approx. restaurants each financial year across all our brands in our portfolio. The next two years this will be higher as we plan to double our size of operations.


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