The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Fare with colour, spice and flavour
- First full-fledged Mexican restaurant set to debut on Manoharpukur Road

Let your tastebuds tingle to salsa, whet your palate with tostadas and enchiladas before washing it down with a Margarita.

In a few months, Calcutta will have its first full-fledged Mexican restaurant, complete in its authenticity, with warm, custom-designed interiors that promise to dish out great music in a warm wooden ambience. “Mexican food can easily suit the Indian palate, as it is quite fiery, like some of our own dishes, and many ingredients are common,” points out Saket Kanoi, executive vice-president of Kanoi Castillo Corporation, a joint-venture company between the Kanoi Group and the Castillo LLC of the United States.

The company has been set up with the tea majors Kanoi holding 49 per cent of the stakes with a view to becoming an exclusive Mexican food-franchising and distribution unit. The venture “has the blessings of Kino Castillo”, who set up the Casa Castillo restaurant chain across the States, now a $38-million company. Castillo has 16 outlets in California alone.

Saket’s wife Mandira is the master chef behind the India project, which kickstarts from their hometown, Calcutta. Mandira, who has designed an extensive menu for the franchisee, is no stranger to food. She is a trained chef from the Le Cordon Bleu Cookery School of Paris.

“We have spared nothing to ensure high-quality food at the very lowest capital and recurring outlay,” says Saket. Each franchisee will have to invest Rs 52 lakh initially, that will enable them to target a profit of Rs 9 lakh every month.

Each franchisee can also have five carts, serving as mobile Mexican food outlets, at shopping malls, the airport and other strategic locations.

The group has also tied up with HDFC Bank, which will provide finance up to nearly 50 per cent of the capital outlay. The franchiser will also provide complete support in terms of operations and development of new products and services.

“In fact, we will provide video-conferencing with our central kitchen in Calcutta to provide crucial tips to the chefs if any crisis crops up during food preparation,” states Saket.

Castillo’s personal chefs and executive advisers will train each franchisee in India on how to make the “most tasty and authentic” Mexican food. Support will also be at hand in the form of the group’s resident chefs in India.

“Mexican food is colourful, spicy and full of flavour. We have kept the choice for vegetarians and non-vegetarians very extensive,” asserts Mandira. After its first outlet comes up on Manoharpukur Road, the group plans to fan out to Chandigarh, Jaipur, Pune, Hyderabad and Chennai. “We have engaged six consultants to ensure quality control in all aspects — the food, the quality of ingredients and the ambience,” says Saket.

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