Restaurant Chain Chili’s Plans To Invest Rs 45 Cr In 5 New Outlets By Mid-2017

Ashish Saxena, Executive Director and CEO, TexMex Cuisine and CEO Chili’s (India) states that by the mid-2017 Chili’s will be investing a total of Rs 45 crore to create more branches in the southern and western regions of India

Ashish Saxena, Executive Director and CEO, TexMex Cuisine and CEO Chili’s (India) states that by the mid-2017 Chili’s will be investing a total of Rs 45 crore to create more branches in the southern and western regions of India. Saxena further talks about the expansion plans along with the way Chili’s functions in an interview with BW Businessworld.

What are the expansion plans for Chili’s in the year 2017?
We have seen the kind of response the consumers have given in terms of the food quality and menu provided here at Chili’s. Therefore we are investing Rs 45 crore by March 2017 to expand the brand further in western and southern regions of India. We already have a set up of five restaurants in highstreet malls across Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Pune and Chennai. Chili’s has experienced consumers coming in and wanting to experience the food at Chili’s and in order to expand and make more consumers aware of our brand we have taken a debt of Rs 20 crore from banks and investing a total of Rs 45 crore to create more outlets in the South and West regions of India.

What is the story behind Chili’s success and why does the brand aim to launch more branches in India?
Chili’s has been present as a brand for over 42 years over the world and is present in over 33 countries. Brinker International bought the brand from Larry Levine in 1983. The brand entered the Indian market in 2009 (8 years) and the first outlet opened in India. The single most reason for Chili’s success is the kind of food served here along with the relevance of the time it operates in and that’s helped the brand globally. One key point that makes Chili’s stand out from many dining outlets is that Chili’s is a more family oriented place.

American bar & grill is what it says on our board, so we keep food first and bar secondly and most restaurants in Mumbai don’t even allow kids. We are kid and family friendly and that helps us bring up the business by 35 per cent.”

Chili’s believes in being as honest and true to the brand as much as possible. Hence the menu presented is the same menu and cuisine as the American outlets. Some of the spices that are in Mexico are way different from the ones in India. Hence sourcing the same ingredients with relevance to foreign spices locally is a key task for TexMex Cuisine. The availability of non-vegetarian food is not scarce and so the brand has catered to the vegetarian consumers by providing the same cuisine but completely vegetarian.

The core architecture of the brand which is TexMex Cuisine has bridged the gap in setting vegetarian cuisines as well as non-vegetarian cuisines keeping Indian audiences in mind.

What are the challenges that Chili's faced while entering the food and beverage market of India?
The biggest challenge we face is in the right real estate for our brand and employee training and retention. Many developed markets in our region does not have well developed infrastructure for F&B. Take Bandra in Mumbai for example, we have almost no property that fulfills our criteria of good access, ample parking and safety standards. Another challenge is with the retaining talent - with the boom in F&B many brands looks towards reputed international chains like ours as good hunting ground to poach trained talent. We have to constantly find innovative ways to motivate and retain our team members.

How is Chili’s differentiating their marketing campaigns?
Chili’s campaign is divided into two parts. Mass which is regional based and second is local. Local campaigns for advertising are carried on by keeping the area of the outlet in mind. Chili’s brand involves itself in local marketing drives for the people in the locality in order to create relationships with its customers. Basically market and promote in and around the area of the outlet. By advertising their new menus, the regular customers who live or work in the area are made aware of it and makes them want to come and try out new dishes. The idea is to make an outsider also aware of the restaurant when they enter the area.

“The marketing money would be affected if the outlet is present in just one locality and we go across advertising throughout the city. Hence we concentrate on interest based marketing, if users on social media like or share any American food brand, we would pitch to them in order to make them aware of the types of other brands like Chili’s that exist in the country.” Says Ashish while explaining the marketing ideology of Chili’s

For mass marketing campaigns Chili’s advertises the launch of every outlet through all media platforms. But apart from this initiative the brand indulges in setting across events by partnering with media distribution companies in order to maintain brand awareness and also maintain an economic balance for marketing and advertising.

How does Chili's see the food culture in India and are they planning to provide fusion based dishes as well?
It’s a very exciting time for F&B in India. The guests are increasingly becoming aware of global cuisine and are willing to experiment and discover new flavors. With the smart phone and social media explosion the presentation of the food is just as important as the taste. Chili’s has worked hard over the last 4-5 years to reinvent the menu and increase the freshness quotient. We introduced many new dishes such as Fresh Mex rice bowls, Top Shelf Tacos, new flavors such as Roasted Garlic and Mango BBQ for our legendary Baby Back Pork Ribs and of course our craft burgers. Our new menu ‘Art of The Burger’ celebrates the Burger as an art masterpiece. For the first time ever, we have introduced a Shrimp patty in our Magnificent Meat and Shrimp Burger. Also the Bacon Perfection is a must try for Bacon lovers. In April we are going to launch a whole new range of dishes to celebrate the sports season with IPL round the corner.

Which city in India has provided the highest turnover for Chili’s?

Mumbai is the city which provides the highest turnover for Chili’s across India. Branches are available in Pune, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai but according to their profit turnovers in recent years it is Mumbai that that creates more profit turnovers than the other cities crossing Rs.1 crore a month in sales whereas the average turnover per month sums up to Rs .65 lakh.

What kind of technology does Chili’s use to maintain food quality?

Chili’s has reinvented its kitchen to be able to consistently serve high quality Fresh Mex and Fresh Tex, what it is food to our guests. Fresh Mex and Fresh Tex is Chili’s new menu where rice bowls to most of our latest dishes are served with new and fresh vegetables and meat. It’s what we call - 'Kitchen of the Future’. The kitchen is equipped with a infra-red oven which replaces the traditional grill - this helps improve the consistency of grilled proteins immensely. Coupled with other innovations such as holding cabinets and induction cooking.

How does Chili's maintain its meat quality?

Temperature abuse - is the probably the biggest reason for meat quality deteriorating. We have stringent standards in maintaining the same. It starts with having a deep freezer and walk in chiller in all our restaurants. Then all meat is stored at specific temperature in the kitchen line. Needless to say we buy the raw meat from the biggest and the best suppliers like Venky’s for Chicken.

Is Chili’s introducing new technology in their outlets with respect to food and beverage?
Chili’s has an enterprise resource planning in place which is seen in scarce with many restaurants. The cost systems are completely integrated with the ERP system which helps in analyzing the quantity of food consumed by a layman. The benefit of trusting an ERP helps from spending excessively and control losses. Ashish further explains that not only do they control prices but also other types of leakages that can happen including wastage, errors in portioning and thefts.

We manage to save at least 2 1/2 per cent of our sales with this focus. (Enterprise resource planning) For the manufacture of food we have incorporated technology into everything and we are very much in favor of technology to enhance business products.

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