Azure Hospitality was established in 2009 with a mindset to become a pioneer in the F&B industry. Our initial thoughts were to create unique culinary concepts, with creativity at the heart of our corporate culture. We discovered a gap in the market. To eat Asian food, one either had to go to a quick-service restaurant or dress up and go to a hotel. There were several Italian cafés and no Asian all-dining space. With these two gaps, we narrowed down on an all-day Asian café. Azure Hospitality now umbrellas Mamagoto, India’s first pan-Asian café format restaurant chain; Rollmaal, an Indian street food offering; Speedy Chow, a Thai and Chinese comfort food and catering service, and Mamapaati. Each business has a distinct mix of cutting-edge design, intrinsic quality and international appeal, and is value-driven. Azure looks at them not as businesses but as a collection of individual characters, each with its own signature that sets it apart among competition.
The casual dining space in India continues to expand with a healthy mix of first-time entrepreneurs. Local chains are expanding organically while others are bringing in foreign brands by the boatload. There is bound to be a disruption in the market with clients spoilt for choice, hence they are fast and naturally becoming more discerning than any Indian generation in history. I see this not as a race but as a long trek filled with challenges and opportunities and a great food version of “survival of the fittest”.
I always discourage others from getting into the restaurant business as it always carries high risk, and is filled with crazy hours, unforeseen challenges and cluttered competition. The challenges always remain the same: to build a competent team that shares your angle of vision, dealing with government authorities, the barrage of self-proclaimed critics, among several others. It’s a business that no matter how long you have been each day, you start from zero, and make your best attempt to minimise your errors. Therefore, when people tell me that their restaurant is on autopilot, I feel they’re either lying or clueless. Getting in the restaurant business has its own set of challenges and setbacks, and seldom do restaurants open and become an overnight success. The rise in competition does give an evident drive to a restaurant to improve and stand out, but the key emphasis of any restaurant regardless of the competition is to be paramount in every aspect it has to offer.
Our aim has always been to help people grow and expand their minds to what they’re truly capable of becoming, to stay humble and never take their success or guests for granted. The idea is to evolve continuously while staying true to the identity of your brand and your vision to achieve it. Never dilute your brand for a quick buck, and always make time for your people and their career hopes. Amid all the stress and madness, try to keep things as real and grounded as possible, and keep those you touch through your brand happy.