Bengaluru-based restaurateur Amit Ahuja built AA Hospitality, his food & beverage business, on the premise of experiential dining. The aesthetics of his restaurants—from dimsum and sushi spot Lucky Chan to its pan-Asian sibling Misu—were every bit as important as the fare on offer. While most restaurants only find mention on food blogs, both Misu and Lucky Chan find themselves featured on as well. This appeal is what Ahuja is counting on to draw diners out of the comfort of their homes, and into his restaurants.

The Covid-19 pandemic turned this on its head. No amount of interior design—short of kitting diners out in hazmat suits and serving them in sterile plastic bubbles—could entice patrons into eateries. The high-investment, high-rental, high-footfall game AA Hospitality banked on was no longer sustainable.

Diners weren’t coming to his restaurants, at least not in the numbers they once did. The catchment areas his restaurants could serve via delivery were also limiting. To get around this, Ahuja decided to take his food to diners. The plan was to go a route that’s become increasingly popular post-Covid—cloud kitchens. 

The solution, though, presented a whole new set of problems. Ahuja had to find a space to set up the kitchen, invest in equipment, staff it, then list it on delivery platforms or figure out his own last-mile arrangements. Unlike his restaurants, which had built their respective patronages over the years, a cloud kitchen in a new area would have to cut its teeth as a new entity, hoping to be noticed by diners with more delivery choices than time or hunger.

Ahuja took the path of least resistance, he partnered with Kitchens@, a new breed of cloud kitchens, to launch a delivery-only outlet for Misu. Kitchens@ offers hoteliers a plug-and-play option to make their transition to operating a cloud kitchen as quick, seamless, and inexpensive as possible. Restaurants can rent a dedicated space across 14 Kitchens@ hubs across Bengaluru—the only city the business is present in at the moment—and get straight to the operational side of things.

The benefits of choosing to partner with a player like Kitchens@ goes beyond just kitchen space. With between 20-42 restaurant brands housed at each hub, it’s a hotspot for food delivery executives, meaning faster, more efficient delivery. Kitchens@ also serves as something of a market researcher, studying the catchment areas around its hubs and informing its tenants on customers’ food preferences, habits, and even spending power. For restaurants gingerly stepping into new localities, not to mention a new business model, this information could be the difference between success and failure.

This USP has seen businesses like Kitchens@ and its rival Kitchens Centre gain traction with both large quick-service restaurant chains such as Dominos, Taco Bell, and SubWay, as well as smaller, local restaurants.

AUTHOR

Bhumika Khatri

Bhumika covers e-commerce, consumer internet, and everything startup for The Ken in Delhi. In her previous stint at Inc42, she spent two and a half years writing about a breadth of startups and topics. A commerce graduate, Bhumika completed her postgraduate in journalism from the Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media, Bengaluru. You can reach her at Bhumika@the-ken.com

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