Fall in love with mediterranean cuisine
Mar 27 2012, 13:27 | By CNBC-TV18
Image: SME Mentor
Once known as the capital’s fashion and art address, Hauz Khas Village has seen a sudden surge of new restaurants over the past year despite property prices and rentals shooting up. Randeep Bajaj too bit into the village food scene with his fine dining Mediterranean restaurant Amour.
‘Amour’ means love, and 26 year old Randeep Bajaj wants you to fall hopelessly in love with his first entrepreneurial venture. Armed with a degree from the US, Randeep took the road less travelled when he left a cushy family business and started his own restaurant in October.
Overlooking 13 century ruins, the Hauz Khas Lake and stunning panoramic greens, this spectacular view is a big draw for customers. This fine dining restaurant brings a classy touch to an otherwise rustic setting.
But Randeep says starting up in the age old restaurant business in India is never easy.
“There are challenges in every industry and in India setting up a new business is a challenge in itself. Although we are out of ‘License Raj’, licenses are still an issue. For example, we have to get 4-6 difference licenses whereas this could easily come under one single body which should overall look at all those different aspects and make life easier for everyone out there,” he said.
According to him, a single body should be set up which overlooks the governing of this system so that there are good rules in place which are properly implemented.
Another challenge Randeep faced was the issue of rentals. “Tier I city rentals, especially in Delhi or Mumbai are phenomenal. So that itself poses a huge challenge for any entrepreneur to start any business. When you know your initial fixed cost is so high, one thinks multiple times before taking the plunge,” he said.
Quality above all
Despite the high costs, Randeep doesn’t believe in compromising quality. The Amour kitchen offers a wide area of sumptuous choices made from fresh ingredients. Apart from an interesting selection of appetisers, main courses and hand made pastas, on offer are pizzas and a live grill at the patio. With an eye on being authentic, Randeep flew down Chef Gennaro Rociola from Milan who conceptualised the menu and trained the staff at Amour.
With less than a year at being in business, Randeep is now looking to secure funding and expanding in the near future. “Ideally we would be more than happy if were able to get funding because that way we will be able to expand at a much faster pace. But, it may not be now but 6-8 months down the line,” he said.
Even though they haven’t been approached by venture capitalists of private ewuity investors yet, Randeep says he has been approached by individuals who are willing to act as funds or VCs and take Amour to other cities. “We have had offers coming for places like Dubai or London. I also had somebody from Tokyo who is being hell bent upon doing an Amour there,” he said.
Love at first sight
With 75 member team, Amour expands over 9000 sq ft and offers both indoor and Al Fresco dining options. A sun set deck also promises the perfect evening and a true Mediterranean experience. Making full use of this, Amour offers customers a special sundown menu attempting to reel in customers through the day. It starts operations early and remains open all day till dinner. A Sunday special brunch gives the villagers a breakfast experience they are unlikely to forget.
But Randeep believes the location for Amour was love at first sight. “When I finally decided to do the restaurant I was looking at this space and a couple more options, but where can you get a view like this, the kind of breeze which we are enjoying right now, the whole atmosphere? We are sitting in the centre of South Delhi, in a village, which is a totally unique thing not existent in any part of India. So therefore I stuck to the fact that I wanted to do it over here in the village and I am glad I did because it’s an amazing place,” he said.
With the in-house bakery, the freshly baked breads and chef’s swiping delectable pastry delights Amour sets up a sweet surprise for its customers. Touching revenues of Rs 4 crore after just 6 months of operations, Randeep now looks to perfect his existing model. While he does agree that he has tasted the sweet taste of success, he wants to take small steps towards making Amour a household name in other cosmopolitan cities in India.
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