It’s not uncomoon to see even the smallest of coffee (and tea) joints serve finger food as well as mini portions of meals these days in India. From biryanis to vada pav, pizzas to pastas, it is almost compulsory to have a reasonable food menu option if one is operating a cafe. This makes sense on two fronts; the margin on food is higher (than beverages). While a western styled coffee such as Cafe Latte or Cappucini could be priced around Rs. 150 a portion, a one-person serving of a Lasagne could be priced at Rs. 225 or more. So, the net revenue as well as the money margin earned from food is generally higher. Second, today’s consumers preferences have changed a whole lot than when Cafe Coffee Day, Barista among others prevailed the cafe scene in India during the 2000s.
Barista Coffee, one of the first few entrants in the cafe business in India has had its own share of ups and downs. The chain changed hands (ownership) multiple times which stunted its growth. Secondly, the company followed a franchise model from the beginning which also led to lack of standardisation of standard operating procedures. Rival CCD on the other hand directly operated over 1,400 cafes across India during its peak in 2016-17, until when the whole business came down crushing. Costa Coffee, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Gloria Jeans, some of the early international chains as well as Starbucks, in JV with Tatas, have always focussed big on the food menu. The menu is also closely monitored and altered, should some of the items are not selling as expected. After all, food waste is a direct loss to the bottom line.
Barista Diner is an all day dining, cafe cum restaurant model and currently operates in the NCR region. The chain opened its newest cafe at Airia Mall, Gurgaon recently. The mall is well positioned to attract those who are living in northern Gurgaon, all the way up to Manesar. The high-end apartments and villas are also spreading in this region, as the ones closer to Udyog Vihar and IGI Airport have more or less been saturated. The mall, which opened doors in 2020 has seen a slow but steady growth in footfalls quarter over quarter and hit its peak in summer 2022. Many international and domestic malls have opened here and in the recent past, are doing sound business, with the mall being managed professional to attract & retail shoppers.
Whether Barista Diner will take wings and open more cafes in this format is a big question. On one side, it requires a larger investment of equipment and therefore, corresponding space. On the other hand, unlike a cafe, the dining business requires 2-3 executive chef who would need to prepare the final food, unlike in the cafe where they are mostly heated in an oven. This, obviously puts in a higher pressure on achieving break-even with a larger turnover and the food waste is also a key concern here. However, many standalone cafes including international as well as single-cafes, mostly run by entrepreneurs are moving towards an all-day dining model. This attracts guests all day and they also spend more time (and more money, eventually).