The Founder of India's Only Listed Restaurant Believes in a Lean Model to Sustain

As Anjan Chatterjee prepares to hand over reins to son Avik, he has some golden tips for the younger generation

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Anjan Chatterjee, the Indian hotelier and founder and Chairman & Managing Director of Speciality Restaurants Ltd is a man of many flavours but few words.

After having worked in the industry for 25 years, Chatterjee is now looking to hand over the baton to his son Avik Chatterjee.

Avik started popular restaurant Hoppipola and Cafe Mezzuna and is set to take over the reins from his father.

Anjan Chatterjee’s restaurant career began in 1992 when Anjan started his first restaurant named Only Fish in Mumbai. ‘Only Fish’ was re-launched and re-positioned as ‘Oh! Calcutta’ later.

In 1995, he started the speciality Chinese restaurant brand Mainland China in Sakinaka area in Mumbai. From then, he has launched multiple restaurant chains namely Oh! Calcutta, Sigree, Sweet Bengal, Machaan among other.

In a chat with Entrepreneur India, he spoke about how to run a successful food business, how there is no success mantra and why passion, hard work and discipline are very important.

“Lots of millennial are hard-working but only some are working hard. Money can’t be the only objective and one needs to have growth and profitability with a large purpose,” the veteran restauranteur & business owner said in an interview.

Golden Tips

Chatterjee believes the younger generation has a lot to learn from experienced professionals. According to him the restaurant industry is taken as a glamour industry by the people but a lot of hard work is involved.

“(The industry) requires knowledge of real estate, marketing, finance, food and beverages, hence people must understand it’s not glamour, it is hard work,” Chatterjee said.

Sustainability is Everything

At a time when we have umpteen restaurants opening and shutting down, the sustainability of a restaurant is of prime importance.

Today we have good brands that have to shut down due to non-availability of staff such as a Lebanese chef or a Turkish chef. Some people have to battle competition and combat issues like real estate prices. In such a scenario, putting a sustainability model is paramount.

Real estate cost in India is higher than London or New York and hence it is important to make the model fat free and keep it lean; you can’t out price yourself believes Chatterjee,

“Keep a model which is tight in terms of labor and ensuring that real estate you hire or purchase is not in excess. Learn to work with less number of people and learn how to work in a smaller place,” Chatterjee said.

Own Pick

Chatterjee’s own choice of food and restaurants is unique.

He loves dining at Nobu, a Japanese restaurant known for delivering upscale sushi and Japanese – Peruvian fusion. He says it’s luxurious, has elegant décor. Another favorite is Gaylord’s & Wenger’s in Delhi. He says he was brought up in Delhi so those are certainly his picks.

“Another restaurant in Calcutta called Mocamo is a quiet place in Park Street where the food is consistent and the joint have lived over a period of 50 years,” says Chatterjee.

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