What’s the latest from Anjan Chatterjee’s kitchen? A recipe to take Oh! Calcutta’s Shorshe Bata Maach to the heart of London and Mainland China’s Corn & Potato Tsing Hai Style to Dubai malls.
While the Bengali arm of Chatterjee’s Speciality Restaurants, Oh! Calcutta, will open branches in London and Singapore, its flagship brand Mainland China and Global Grill (formerly Flame & Grill) will lead a pack of seven restaurants to the Persian Gulf.
“We’re in the process of taking Oh! Calcutta to international destinations through a joint venture. We’re already in Dhaka and will open in Singapore and in the heart of London within the next six months as we think that the brand has great potential. No offence, but Indian food should not be confined to the predictable Tandoori Chicken and Dal Makhni. There’s no reason why a Shorshe Bata Maachh or a Kankra Chingri Bhapa should not be the most exotic thing on the palate of the international community,” said managing director Anjan Chatterjee.
He added that a “bongosantan (son of Bengal)” designer and a “personal friend” would be designing all the international outlets, but did not spill the name.
The food czar will dip his chopsticks in the Gulf with Mainland China and add to the variety on the platter of Global Grill, which is now India-centric with its kebabs. “There will be Kali Dal with bits of butter, and also Khao Suey, a Thai green curry, and mezze platter, because palates are changing,” explained Chatterjee.
The first two outlets in Dubai will open in malls — one in Burjuman and the other most probably in Dubai Mall. “We want to do it in malls because for six months it’s very hot there.”
Closer home, the thrust is on making the company’s outdoor catering wing Mobifeast (formerly Speciality Outdoors) a Rs 100-crore business. Mobifeast, which has its central processing unit at Sankrail near Howrah, will soon go national.
“We were focussed on restauranting but now full attention will be given to outdoor catering because even for star hotels, banqueting is the biggest possible revenue earner. Corporates never compromise; volume drives everything there. It’s a bottomless pit,” said Chatterjee.
Of course, unlike star prices, here the price band is between Rs 800 and (if you throw in items like jumbo prawns and hilsa) Rs 2,000. “Calcutta is supposed to be one of the best markets for outdoor catering because people not only like to spend money but also like to experiment. Food theatres, with live stations, are very popular,” said chef Rajesh Dubey, who is leading this vertical.
The company’s inorganic growth, includes the QSR or quick service restaurant format, serving pizza or burger.
For this, the group is “in active discussions with international chains”. “It could be a contractual franchisee agreement like McDonald’s or Dominos or Pizza Hut through which we operate and expand. It’s one of the fastest growing markets and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be doing one,” said Chatterjee.
Calcutta will also get something new from the big brand umbrella to bit into. After its Pune debut in February, all-day casual dining Mediterranean format, Mezzuna, will open “in a mall” in the city in the next three-four months.
Targeted at “young India”, it will offer “wholesome breakfasts” for Rs 250-Rs 300 and will be led by chef Somnath Bhattacharya, who helped set up the Indigo chain.
The ambition, says Chatterjee, is to become a Rs 500-crore company by 2014-15.