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March 11, 2007

Roomali With A View, Dal Fryday and other BangaloreRestaurants.com

Givent that one survey has found that IT professionals spend US$1bn annually on “eating out, it is not probably not surprising that some IT industry executives in Bangalore have decided that they might as well get a share of this spend.

Business Today has an article on some of the IT industry executives - including some full-timers and some moonligthers - turned restaurateurs. (The IT industry connection also explains why most of these restaurants have "offbeat" names reminiscent of dotcoms.)

The article also has a "box item" former venture capitalist Kiran Nadkarni (JumpStartUp and Draper International), who now runs the Kaati Zone chain.
At Mast Kalandar,..Gupta and her techie husband Gaurav Jain are content catering to the ever-burgeoning demand for clean, hygienic north Indian food from the hundreds of it companies around its four units. "We have used some retail expertise we picked up previously (Wipro Technologies, TCS and Vensys, an Australian it company where Jain worked closely with Pizza Hut) and have even put in place a retail matrix to run our business," says Gupta. While she manages the kitchen and back-end of the restaurant, her husband looks after marketing and customer services. The matrix allows them to keep tabs on each of their units and manage supply chain, logistics and even unexpected demand for extra staff easily. Kapoor even has a web-enabled system that allows him to log in remotely to check on Roomali With A View's operations.

Given the crowd at these outlets (when we visited Mast Kalandar at 1.10 p.m., we found the place packed; at Roomali With A View, patrons, ranging from large families to groups of techies, crowd the place in the evening), these code jocks have clearly got their strategy spot on. However, all of them are quick to admit that running a restaurant is a difficult business and that they are only just coming to grips with it. Biswas of Biryani Merchant, for instance, has tied up with Collabrant Incubators, a firm that specialises in taking over and scaling high-potential businesses, to try and ramp it up from just one restaurant and a handful of kiosks to 300 restaurants nationwide. Under this arrangement, Biswas will continue to be part of the management of this chain, but the responsibility of scaling up the business now lies with Collabrant Incubators, a Bangalore-based business strategy and incubation services provider. "In the long term, our business requires scale and some capital infusion to be successful," he argues, adding that he hopes to close around Rs 9-10 crore in funding soon.
Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of information and networking services to the private equity and venture capital ecosystem in India. View free samples of Venture Intelligence newsletters and reports.