Mar 23, 2013 04:43 PM IST | Source: CNBC-TV18

Will Masala Library get lucky with a Michelin star?

Zorawar Kalra, thirty-five-year-old management graduate from Boston‘s Bentley Business University has an entrepreneurial bent of mind and a genetic love for food.

Zorawar Kalra, thirty-five-year-old management graduate from Boston’s Bentley Business University has an entrepreneurial bent of mind and a genetic love for food. It is no surprise that for the last six years since his return to India, Zorawar has turned restaurateur.

Zorawar and his father, celebrity food writer and chef, Jiggs Kalra have now partnered with one of India’s leading hospitality players, Mirah Hospitality to launch Massive Restaurants, which will also bring to market this year three separate offerings; ‘Masala Library’ by Jiggs Kalra, a fine dining restaurant chain, ‘Made in Punjab’ which is a casual diner, as well as signature gourmet brand ‘Mithai’. Zorawar has massive plans and he wants to create Rs 500 crore listed entity in five years.

When Zorawar Kalra decided to get into business he did not think twice about and sticking to the space he knew best, food. In 2007 Zorawar partnered with Amit Burman’s Lite Bite Foods to launch Punjab Grill by Jiggs Kalra, a chain of fine dining restaurants.

Having tasted critical acclaimed with Punjab Grill and Street Foods of India, Zorawar in 2012 decided to start up once again. He exited the joint venture with Lite Bite Foods to Massive Restaurants with his father Jiggs Kalra. The father son duo has a majority stake in the venture while Gaurav Goenka’s Mirah Hospitality has been brought in as a strategic partner.

In phase one Zorawar plans to use Rs 25 crore, to launch two fine dining restaurants, Masala Library by Jiggs Kalra in Mumbai and Delhi, by June this year and then focus on brining their casual diner, Made in Punjab and a premium Mithai store to the market as well.

Speaking about his passion, Zorawar Kalra, Founder & MD, Massive Restaurant says, “One of the things that I am good at is of understanding the pulse of the market. I am good at understanding what the Indian people want, their taste buds. So, whenever I make a restaurant, I know I am already developing a concept that caters to Indians. I am an Indian at heart, I will always be and I love my cuisine. I love Indian food more than anything else.”

Currently, managing a team of 25, Zorawar expects to have 200 employees on board in the next six months as his restaurants open. Karla junior admits that his biggest competitive advantage is the five decades of experience that his father Jiggs Kalra brings to the table.

With his father guiding him on getting the food right, Zorawar is focusing on getting the nuts and bolts of the business right in the market that is very competitive and growing at 20-25 percent annually.

It is a serious matter of pride for us to have my father as our mentor says Zorawar. The Massive Restaurants’ mentor is Jiggs Kalra and he is the driving force behind the culinary excellence that we are trying to pursue. It is a great asset to have a person like my father because it gives us a bit of added help in the beginning but it is also a lot of added pressure because its his name at the door and you have to work extra hard to make sure that everybody that walks into the door says something good, he adds.

So, while getting the food and beverage (F&B) concepts right is critical, Zorawar is looking to leverage Mirah Hospitality’s experience in real estate management and operational matters to reach the target of 200-300 percent growth rate within the next three years.

Concentrating on the Mumbai and Delhi markets as of now, Zorawar plans to take Massive international within the next 18 months.

Zorawar questions, why cannot we do what the Chinese did with their cuisine? The Chinese cuisine he says has been accepted phenomenally well. It is one of the popular cuisines practically in any country of the world; whether in North America or Asia or Europe or Australia and the Chinese restaurants all over are doing very well. So, Zorawar says, “I want that to happen with Indian cuisine. I think Indian cuisine is one of the very few cuisines that have a culinary philosophy. It has so much delicacy, so much sophistication. It is one of those art forms that India should be most proud of.”

Zorawar has his eyes firmly on one dream, to make Masala Library by Jiggs Kalra, India's first Michelin star restaurant. He teed off well and plans to open a 130 restaurants across the three categories by next three years and in five years, Zorawar plans to hit Rs 500 crore in revenues and list Massive Restaurants in the capital market as well.

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