Monday, March 17, 2008

Food business

Speaking of eating joints, when we were at this place, I actually felt that this was a good business. Any ways margins are way high in the restaurant business, add some novelty like a Rajwadu style village setting or a maachan and people will pay the premium.
My friend pointed out that it wasn't a very easy business to do however. His reasoning was, that you need to be present all the time else you wouldn't know where your ingredients disappeared. Cooking isn't exactly an activity where you measure with a weighing scale how much atta you used in a paratha (though I know of pizza places which do that, weight the dough, weigh the cheese etc, atleast Dominos does). How do you track a few Kgs of atta going here and there, vegetables disappearing. Unless you source the food items yourself, you might get hit on the prices (assuming you have people who are not exactly honest working for you) Or how do you track spoilage ?
Today I was sitting at this food joint waiting for my order, when I overheard the conversation that the manager of the joint was having with his employee. The place had apparently made a loss of some 35-40k and he was trying to check the accounts. Finally it came down to staff eating food for free. The employee showed the register where the staff makes entry when they eat. The manager scans it and says, "this itself will account for more than half of your loss" (actually said in Hindi, but will post translated versions here)
Then he starts looking at individual items and names of the staff and suddenly exclaims "where is my name in this, even I had eaten, why is my name not here"
The employee showed him his name saying "Ya it is there, see here" to which the manager replies "Double omlett against my name, I don't even eat eggs, get me a pen let me scratch this out, I am a pundit, eggs against my name doesn't look good" simultaneously scratching out his name. Then he goes on to scan the rest of the ledger
"Omlett so many times ? I don't remember having eaten here so many times, what is the date here, 24th and 29th, that time I had still not started eating eggs, I am a pundit" scratch- scratch
And he goes on... Finally exasperated he says "Listen, I am your manager, you don't put my name here, I will make life tough for you" while laughing.
Saying this he says, "see this is the reason for the loss, from tomorrow onwards staff won't eat at this outlet, if they eat they will have to pay. I will talk to the boss and get this system in place" and then tossing aside the register, he asks the guy whats there in the kitchen, "get me dinner, I have to eat here else who will do your accounts for you. Understand else I will stop coming here and you can show your accounts to the big boss himself. Now is there paratha? rice? get me some dal along with it" And off he ate happily.
Its true, with motivated employees like these, it is definitely a difficult business to do :)


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