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Interviews

Bengaluru seems to be getting more challenging every single day to do business. There is very little support from the authorities and way too many policies – Amit Roy

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An entrepreneur, F&B consultant and a partner at several F&B properties across India, Amit Roy, started Shilton Hospitality with his friends and partners. Pursuing his passion to be in the hospitality industry, Amit Roy, Partner, Shilton Hospitality shares his insights with NRAI.

What compelled you to enter the restaurant industry?

I have always been passionate about food. Right from when I was in school, I was interested in understanding what my mom did in the kitchen.

I did my Bcom and joined the family business – Raj & Roy Agencies – which deals with supplying equipment to the hospitality industry. I think this further excited me to pursue a career in hospitality. I then moved to Australia to pursue masters in hospitality and started my career working in a café, bussing tables. I have never looked back since then.

Give us a brief about your company. What are your growth plans?

Established in 2003, Shilton Partners operates in various industries – construction, business hotels, restaurants and a music festival. Currently, we own & operate 6 resto-bars under the brand ‘WATSON’S – The Grub Pub’. Our vision is to create experiences for consumers – and therefore our business areas are varied – from real estate to music festivals!

We have 300+ member team with hands-on involvement from the leadership in all key areas – Strategy, Business Development, Operations, F&B, Finance and Legal.

We want to grow organically, and are planning to make Watsons a national brand. We’re also venturing into other hospitality spaces, and will be opening a full-service hotel in the near future. .

How do you decide the menu in your restaurant? What is Watson’s signature offering that sets it apart from others in this segment?

Our menu is based on the concept of Watson’s – comfort food that pairs well with a drink after work. Apart from this, we make several permutations and combinations which are a product of:

  • Consumer preferences and tastes –
  • Market trends on food and preferences
  • And some unique recipes

Our signature dishes are:

  • Mogo – fried Casava Chips tossed in Ghee and
  • Karepak Vepudu – Curry Leaf Paste tossed Chicken.

They are not available in other bars / pubs. They are comfort dishes and ideal to go as a bar snack.

Watson’s has started its operations in Goa & Chennai as well. How different is the restaurant scene there from that of Bengaluru?

Both are opposites. In Goa it was much easier with the legal department and pretty straightforward laws. Chennai is very strict. Goa is exciting as we have just relocated to Candolim and will be launching this month. It will be in the hub of the tourist zone and we are looking forward to this as it’s a step in a new direction for Watson’s. We are normally the neighbourhood pub.

Bengaluru seems to be getting more challenging every single day to do business. There is very little support from the authorities and way too many “policies”. We are hoping for clarity on business operations in this space, as well as better implementation of laws.

Would you like to comment on the recent issue of music licences in Bengaluru? Please share your thoughts and suggestions.

For any city to thrive, a vibrant hospitality industry is essential. And therefore, the government must also realise that the city needs to progress with the times. Archaic laws and policies do not make sense, and need to be revisited to be relevant. . They are hindering the growth of the city as a whole. It’s time to relook at this and structure or amend them to meet today’s standards and requirements.

What are your major learnings as a restaurateur?

You are as good as your team. Treating them well will be a key to your success.

What do you do to unwind yourself, to keep work-life balance?

I love to cook and travel. So, I try to cook at least twice a week which gets me my zen quota and a good weekend getaway with my wife is the nirvana I need now and then to keep me going.

How is your association with the NRAI working out? Any industry challenges you would like to address through the association?

It has been a good journey so far. Have met very interesting and likeminded people who want to help and improve the industry as a whole and not just personal growth. I would really like to try and help in addressing the issues of single window processing and policies for a start.

One tip you would like to offer to youngsters aspiring to enter the restaurant business?

If your heart is in it, take the dive. Do your research and analysis well and understand that people, product and process are the key to a successful venture.