What Makes for a Successful Restaurateur Complacency in this business rings in the "last order" for any restaurant

By Aditi Dugur

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There's an old Spanish saying - "the belly rules the mind" which is why you have so many business luncheons and corporate dinners! The restaurant business is all about making people happy. There's nothing better than a sumptuous meal to raise you when your down or lift you even higher when you celebrate.

The food business is challenging exciting and ever-changing. the core root essential for the success of any business - a committed and deep passion for the enterprise that you are venturing into.

Competitiveness is the Key

Hospitality is a very competitive business and it is not easy to build brand loyalty. The diner can be easily wooed by the newest entrant into the business. To be successful it is essential that your restaurant isn't the proverbial "flash in the pan".

It goes without saying that a successful restaurant must serve great food - a quality product that's a cut above the competition. In order to do this, you need a talented Chef - a Chef that's in sync with the concept of the restaurant and shares your philosophy and passion. Once you have that in place you need to provide him the freedom and support to create a menu that is distinctive and that will appeal to your customer base.

Staying Updated

The menu will need to be regularly updated, the food and produce must be of superior quality and the presentation and service must be a top-drawer. Today diners have been exposed to fine-dining not just in India but across the globe and hence are far more particular and demanding of a restaurant. A successful restaurant needs trained staff who have bought into the concept of the restaurant and are well versed in the intricacies of the cuisines and wines and alcohol best paired with each course. This business is all about teamwork and when a restaurant creates a family-like bond between co-workers you can be sure you have a winner on your hands.


The location of your restaurant also contributes to its success. So there are of course exceptions to every rule. A restaurant's ambiance, decor, and design is the first thing that the guests encounter and this gives them a "feel' of the place. An attractive setting that's comfortable with attention to detail and a warm and inviting atmosphere sets the tone for the dining experience.


The Indian palate is now jaded, having sampled so many different cuisines across the world, that today a restaurant must be innovative and have its own distinct identity that's unique. Changing menus seasonally, offering newer additions to the menus, bringing in guest Chefs and introducing new concepts are some of the means to retain novelty and ensure that at each visit the diner has a unique and memorable meal. Experiment with tastes, flavours, and textures to create new dishes that are both visually appealing and delicious to taste. Complacency in this business rings in the "last order" for any restaurant.

Hard Work

In order for your restaurant to be successful, you need to be hands on. Your guests enjoy the attention, you can bring in the repeat clientele just with a little small talk, by remembering their favourite dish or by paying attention to their feedback. Feedback from guests can be the lifeline for restaurants as if our diners don't enjoy what we offer then not only do we lose out on their return business but their word of mouth can deter further clientele. You need to invest not just in the business but in your guests too.

This is an exciting and dynamic business and your restaurant must be too. Dare to be different and announce it. In this high tech world, it's vital that you be media savvy. You need to aggressively market your restaurant, as there is far too much competition in this business today. You need to create awareness for your brand, spread the word, widen your client base and let the world know about your restaurant and its special USP.

But as Gordon Ramsay so succinctly put it, "running a restaurant is something you have to be working at each and every day; it's not a foregone conclusion that you're a success."

Aditi Dugur

Owner and founder Masque Restaurant and Sage & Saffron

Aditi Dugar first started cooking at the age of 16. But the passion for baking was part of her family’s enthusiasm for food. A four-year career in finance and the life-altering experience of motherhood set her on a different tangent. After quitting her job, Aditi, a lifelong overachiever, knew she had to do something with her life. So she started a small-scale catering business with her mother.

The plan came naturally to Dugar, having always been surrounded by delicious food and tantalizing aromas from her mum and grandma’s kitchen. Months of writing emails to Michelle Roux Jr. resulted in Aditi being accepted in the bakery section of La Gavaroche. Working in a 3 Michelin starred restaurant and surrounded by the most talented chefs confirmed her apprehensions and set out a goal path for her.

Having spent many summers in London, doing short stints at Zuma and Le Petite Maison and working with one of London’s best flower company broadened her horizon. The first time she attended a Sotheby reception to do a flower setup, it dawned on her what the level of finesse at these events is and what India was lacking. What goes into the most perfectly set table for a sitdown dinner and other such details were an eye-opener into the world of creativity and imagination.

It soon became her mission to get to know chefs and train with them while experiencing food with all my travels. One summer she went to Thailand and trained with a street food vendor during the vegetarian festival. Eating the most sinful and tasty vegetarian dishes got her obsessed with South East Asian food. She then got a stage at Bo Lan, one of the best fine dining restaurants in Bangkok. Good food, great presentation and even better service.

The more she travelled and discovered the world, the better she got at what she did. A recent trip to San Sebastian and eating from the rich Basque region drew her very close to the discovery of produce. It was here that she met Prateek Sadhu who shared the same vision. And that’s how MASQUE was born.

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