A change in strategy and his biryani sells like hot cakes in Puducherry

Customers buying Biryani from French restaurant Madame Shanthe’s mobile outlet at the Indira Gandhi square in Puducherry. Photo: S.S. Kumar  

At a time when restaurants and hotels across the country have been struggling, the owner of a French restaurant in the Boulevard decided to reinvent his strategy and cater to the locals.

A. Antony, owner of Madame Shanthe’s, has been running his business for more than two decades catering to foreigners who formed his clientele all along.

The outbreak of COVID-19 necessitating the imposition of lockdown and ban on various activities came as a blow to the hospitality industry in particular.

Several restaurants had to shut down as they could not do business since March when the first phase of lockdown kicked in.

“We expected that the lockdown would be over at the earliest. But this was only a wishful thinking. I have around 28 employees and I could manage their salaries for two months only.

“As the lockdown extended, the chances of reopening the hotel remained grim and my employees had to leave.

“My employees were like my children and I could not see them suffer,” he says.

Mr. Antony said that he did not lose heart and decided to reinvent his strategy. He prepared chicken biryani at his restaurant’s kitchen and started selling it through his cars to cater to the local population unlike in the past when his customers were only foreigners.

Mr. Antony said that he first used one of his cars for mobile sales of chicken biryani. The dish which was normally sold at ₹225 plus GST in the restaurant was sold at ₹70 per packet without compromising on the quality.

“We started with 2 kg in the Boulevard and the packets were sold within half-an hour. I found that there was a good patronage and a large section of local people extended their cooperation,” he says.

Finding that the demand for the dish was on the increase, Mr. Antony started using two more of his cars and with the help of his staff spread out to more locations across the coastal town.

This new strategy was also of help to the workers in his establishment who now had work for half a day as against their daily routine of 7 a.m. to 11.30 p.m.

“I did not want my workers to suffer during the lockdown and also lose their jobs. The food is prepared by them and sold through the mobile units ensuring at least 75% of their salary,” he says.

“We are not sure when the hospitality industry will recover from this crisis. But the pandemic situation is also an opportunity for me to combat the challenge,” he said, claiming that he would continue to do mobile sales even after the situation returned to normal.

“My new strategy has come handy and I realise that I should not have overlooked the locals,” Mr. Antony says.

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Printable version | Sep 26, 2021 3:44:19 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/a-change-in-strategy-and-his-biryani-sells-like-hot-cakes-in-puducherry/article32129011.ece

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