The Adiga way
The restaurant industry, despite being highly dynamic in nature is also one of the most stable and secure ones. That is because the demand for a good hearty meal never ends. At the same time, it is extremely crucial to identify and play only by your core strengths so as to choose the correct offering and target the correct customer.
This is what differentiates my guest today. Mr Radhakrishna Adiga, the proud owner of the legendary Brahmin’s Coffee Bar, Bengaluru joins me for a discussion on the fundamentals of the food business. BCB (as it is popularly called) is a 55-year young establishment, extremely well known for one of the best-tasting Idlis, Vadas and Filter Coffee along with select few other items.
Mr.Adiga , never required a Kotler to get his products and customers right over all these years. He is the perfect example of keeping your business limited to what you do best and creating a niche! In this chat show, I try to discern the ideals/rules followed by Mr Adiga, that have made BCB the institution that it is.
A pinch of benevolence
In this dog-eat-dog world, one does not very often find businessmen with humbler set of expectations. Mr Adiga muses about the amount of satisfaction that is there in feeding people with good food and in the smiles thereafter. I wonder however, how many people run their businesses with such continued passion and simplicity.
Only a businessman who considers himself to be doing service to his customers instead of looking at it from purely a profitability viewpoint, can wake up himself along with the boys at 4.15 am, to open the restaurant with the freshest and steaming hot breakfast at 6 am.
Stories about his weekly sojourn with Lord Venkateshwara of Tirupati temple from the last 25 years have travelled far and wide and I wonder if your business attitude is only a reflection of your personal life after all. Now, that’s some food for thought for dedication in its truest form.
A dollop of practicality
Having said the above, any business thrives on consistency and profits and so does BCB. One needs to change techniques and adapt to the surroundings, says Mr Adiga factually. If there is a need to automate or to even grow your own raw material, one mustn’t hesitate. And I can see the pleasure on his face as he talks about their farms and the produce. With this amazingly consistent system put in place by him to handle the waste and grow their own ingredients, it also reduces the dependency on external factors to a great level, apart from lowering the costs significantly.
He talks about the food aggregators (Swiggy/Zomato), as necessities going forward. Even though this addition to the revenue chain eats up the margins, he still seems very accepting of them and concurs that it’s the customer’s convenience after all, that should drive us.
A squeeze of wisdom
Habits, he tells me smilingly, are very hard to change. Hence even though a lot of thought is put into selecting the right location for a restaurant and rightly so, customers are creatures of habits. This is rightly proven by the fact that BCB has the same customers coming into the restaurant regularly for 38 years and counting!
And it is this belief that leads him to conclude that while lowly priced, pocket-friendly and easy to carry cuisines/products are more popular every now and then, we shall always turn to our traditional food for comfort. This very correctly explains the happy faces at BCB!
The only word of caution from him is that if you come into this business, come to work and not just to invest. It is a very giving and noble industry provided that the intent is right.
It was a pure joy and the most humbling experience to have had this rendezvous with Mr.Adiga. I hope this time-tested recipe gives you a perspective on this business and helps identify your own drivers/motives.
Good luck until next time!