How cities like Lucknow has seen a surge in restaurant biz
For any QSR, casual or fine dining brand, Lucknow always has a place in India’s expansion plans. The growth of food aggregators to tier-II and III cities has elevated the F&B scene of Lucknow. The city of nawabs is now more than kabab and kormas, curries and biryani, and one can now indulge in Mexican, Spanish, English and Asian cuisines, among others.
The increasing frequency of people dining out is directly related to their average spending power. The last few years have seen tremendous growth in job opportunities in Lucknow, thereby the rise in spending power. The social media influence on millennials leads to the change in trends that can be seen in the city.
“I remember when we were young; no morning in Lucknow was complete without the special dahi-jalebi and khasta combination. No matter what time of the year it is, every morning pushcarts making fresh jalebis and khasta used to magically spring up across the city. While we still sell those items here, a lot has changed over the years in the eating culture of Lucknow. While people enjoy the old world charm, there is a sudden shift of modern restaurants, bars and cafes in the city,” Vishnu Gupta, Owner of the iconic shop Neelkanth Sweets started with.
Major restaurant companies such as the Zorawar Kalra-led Massive Restaurants, Priyank Sukhija’s First Fiddle Restaurants and Riyaaz Amlani’s Impresario Entertainment & Hospitality have already marked their presence in the city.
Fast-food QSR chains have also gauged well upon the opportunity. “I believe Lucknow has an advantage over metro cities as the options are less in terms of food chains when compared to Metropolitan cities like Delhi, and Bengaluru. In fact, this is one of the drivers for Wat-a-Burger. We are trying to fill this gap for tier-II cities. We have been getting an overwhelming response in cities like Lucknow and people are becoming familiar with the concept of QSRs and fast food chains,” Farman Beig, co-founder and CEO of Wat-a-Burger commented.
Break-even is faster in these cities owing to lower operating costs and better pricing due to less competition. Overheads such as manpower are also affordable, thanks to the lower cost of living in Lucknow.
However, the rentals are on the higher side in Lucknow but the rest balances out the overall cost. Usually, it takes two to three months for an outlet in Lucknow to reach break-even, which is a lot less time than the other cities, for which it is four to five months on an average.
“The earlier generation probably ate out once a week. The current generation eats out three to four times a week and this trend will only increase as our population becomes more prosperous and we become nuclear families where even the women contribute equally to the workforce as entrepreneurs or professionals. Due to the above trends, we will see an explosion in the QSR business especially with the younger generations wanting different options for different days and being more open-minded as well as having a higher disposable income,” Owner of Urban Terrace in Lucknow added.
Not just restaurants and QSR chains but the 114-year-old Mahomed Bagh Club also indicates how the club life has always been a part and parcel of Lakhnavis. But the last few years have seen a phenomenal rise in club life. The basking of so many new clubs in the city and people becoming permanent members of clubs such as the golf clubs is becoming the new style statement of people in the city. This has caused a direct impact on the restaurant industry as well. The establishment of new lounges in the city has made Lucknow a more eventful city than it already was.
Delhi-based restaurateur, Dinesh Arora has also charted out expansion plans for his flagship brand Unplugged Courtyard where Lucknow is the first city on his radar. Arora feels that the city holds the capacity of a tier-I spend.
Hotelier Vijay Singh Bhadauria who recently opened food services at Pitambara Lawns in Vikas Nagar adds, “Our launch has been on the right time so with our cloud kitchen, multi-cuisine restaurant and quick-service café we will get extended time to serve. Late evening and night turnout gives us the main business,” he added.
Recently, Xbar.Club has also announced to invest USD 10 million for expansion which will be towards both company-owned and franchise outlets in prominent cities like Lucknow. Indianised fusion burger chain, Burger Singh, has also announced its plan to open seven new outlets in Lucknow by the end of this financial year. The burger chain currently has two dine-in outlets in Lucknow, one in Gomati Nagar and another in Ashiyana.
Rahul Seth, Co-founder, Burger Singh, said, "We're one of the largest burger delivery players in the country but we didn't think we were recognised in Lucknow. The tremendous response we have received from our two outlets in Lucknow shows that the people of this city love the product. “
The food delivery ecosystem was organic to this rampant growth of Lucknow’s F&B space. It adds extra hands at visibility, the ability for a restaurant to reach its end customers. Most of the restaurants have associations and tie-ups with the food delivery partners as it aids in earning incremental revenue.