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BW Businessworld

Restaurant Chain Chili’s Plans To Invest Rs 20 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 20 crore to create more branches in the southern and western regions of India

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Ashish Saxena, Executive Director and CEO, TexMex Cuisine and CEO - Chili’s India (South & West) in conversation with BW Businessworld stated that “By mid-2017, we as Chili’s India (South-West)are looking at investing 20 crore for expansions. We aim at starting five new Chili's across, Mumbai, Chennai, and Bangalore

What are the expansion plans for Chili’s in the year 2017?
Brand Chili’s received an overwhelming response in India, right from the time we opened our first outlet (Mumbai, Powai). What I personally feel has worked for us, is that we have been successful in creating valuable experiences and not just good food. The Chili’s experience comprises of everything right from our location/quality/quantity/ambiance/feedback mechanism and to rightfully extend this experience to our consumers we are looking at investing 20 Cr in opening 5 more Chili's in 2017. This will mean a 50 per cent growth in our footprint taking Chili’s from 10 to 15 restaurants in South and West 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 serving great American and Mexican cuisine for over 42 years now and has established its presence in over 33 countries. We entered the Indian market in 2009 (8 years back) with our first Chili's in Mumbai. We credit our success to the quality of the food we serve. Our consistency coupled with American sized food portions and use of highest quality ingredients makes our guests to keep coming back.

The versatility of our menu ensures that there is something for everybody, making us a preferred choice amongst families looking to have a meal together, or a corporate team celebrating a recent success or millennials just hanging together with their friends. At Chili’s we say - ‘More Life Happens Here'

What are the challenges that Chili's faced while entering the food and beverage market of India?
The biggest challenge that we face is the lack of availability of the right real estate for our brand. Developed markets in our region do not have the right infrastructure for the F&B industry. Take Bandra (Mumbai) as an example, we have failed to find a property that meets our basic brand criteria i.e accessibility, ample parking space and safety standards. Another challenge we face is with retaining talent – But I guess that is the story of all restaurant chains across India.

How is Chili’s differentiating their marketing campaigns?
We at Chili’s have a very strategic approach to our marketing and our campaigns are essentially divided into two buckets: National Umbrella Campaign & Local area specific campaigns. We have been channelizing our energies in interacting with the consumer in and around our delivery radius ensuring optimum marketing with a targeted reach keeping the cost low and ROI high. We also leverage our social media presence on Facebook with around 2 lakh followers and our loyalty database with around 2.5 lakh members effectively with targeted promotional campaigns to bring back guests.

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 food. In today’s digital age the look has become as important as the taste. Chili’s has worked hard over the last 4-5 years to reinvent itself with Fresh Mex and Fresh Tex approach to ensure consistency in the freshness quotient. Some of our new dishes include Craft Burgers, Fresh Mex Rice Bowls, Top Shelf Tacos, Pizza and Flatbreads (in select regions), and new flavors in our guest favorites like Creamy Jalapeno Wings, Mango BBQ Baby Back Ribs and Mango Chile Basa.

Which city in India has provided the highest turnover for Chili’s?
Mumbai has been in the leader in terms of sale followed by Hyderabad, Bangalore, Pune and Chennai. We are the highest grossing family restaurant in our catchment or malls where we are present.

What kind of technology does Chili’s use to maintain food quality?
The backbone of our business has to be our kitchen. It’s what we call - 'Kitchen of the Future’. The kitchen is equipped with various innovative equipments one of them being an 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 helps deliver food fresh, fast and hot to guests.

How does Chili's maintain its meat quality?
Temperature abuse is the biggest reason for meat quality deteriorating. We are very particular about food storage practices and maintain specified temperature across different types of raw materials. This is done by having a walk-in chiller and freezer at each of our outlets with clear storage guidelines on temperature and shelf life. This takes us expensive real estate and requires investment but we don’t shy away from it. We additionally source our meat from one of the most reputed companies in the space e.g. Venky’s for Chicken products.

Is Chili’s introducing new technology in their outlets with respect to food and beverage?
Last 3 years we have worked hard on implementing an ERP system across all our restaurants. This system is unique as it is fully integrated with our POS, MMS and Financial system. The system has helped us immensely to reduce our food costs.

For our guests, we launched our new website and our mobile apps for both iOS and Android. Again the website and app is fully integrated with our restaurant POS and loyalty systems ensuring a seamless experience for our guests. This year we plan to extend the apps to allow for table ordering!

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