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Features

The big fat brunch

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The festive season is on in full swing and it’s time to laugh and be merry. Or rather eat and drink till your purses go light.

The year-end is the time when food & beverage (F&B) brands leave no stone unturned to garner in maximum footfalls, revenues and work towards building upon profits. And a sure shot way of achieving this is by orchestrating lavish brunches, where a customer gets to “eat-all-he/she-can”. Come to think of it, which millennial can resist the lure of countless picture-perfect hors d’oeuvres, mains spanning multiple cuisines and a colourful array of delectable desserts – all accompanied by festive music, cocktails and camaraderie and presented at “all-inclusive attractive price’’?

A brunch at any upscale restaurant during the festive hours costs upwards of Rs 2000-3,000 per head, accompanied by a host of taxes. But since such brunches are all-inclusive, we can regale ourselves and stay for as long as we want, says 27-year-old advertising professional Sanchi Singh. She enjoys visiting brunches at high-end restaurants in Central Mumbai on Christmas Day, chilling with friends, gorging on roast turkey, gingerbread crusted ham, puddings and splurging since “it is the year-end.”

“As opposed to selecting from a menu, all-inclusive brunches work out to be economical,” feels Singh. But do they?

“Not exactly,” says an industry expert who wishes to remain anonymous. He says the eat-all-you-can buffets are designed to maximise profits for the F&B brands. “Brunches are a shrewd way of reigning in sales. The ‘hand-crafted’ food that is displayed on the platter is all mass produced, thereby reducing costs for restaurants since limited kitchen resources are used. Remember, if a guest pays Rs 2500, the cost of the ingredients and the overall preparation costs are only 25-30% of brunch tariff,” says the expert.

Brunches work by the logic that from the gamut of guests who visit, only a handful eat till they burst at the seams. The rest are only average eaters who munch by on the appetisers, salads and desserts, leaving out the meaty mains, thereby further optimising costs for the restaurants.

Momin Faqi, brand chef at Mumbai’s Kode, says the psychological concept of brunch is about getting unlimited food at a set price, “although the fact remains unchanged that an average human can consume at most 300-350 grams of food when presented on a platter. But what makes it so special is the overall production cost, which is less compared to when the same dish is made in smaller portions.’’

Moreover, there are limited service costs since brunches do not require waiters, as they are mainly crafted to be self-service.

According to Tanay Kala, restaurant manager, Lake View Café, Renaissance Mumbai, the spread style with attractive pricing plays an important role in filling up covers and footfalls in restaurants. “More the guests, more the profits and reduced costs. Hotels prefer their revenue generating counters to stay. December is when lots of foreign guests also travel to their respective countries and inbound guests look for places to celebrate with their family. Hotels which do not host brunches lose out on the opportunity.”

With the rapid urbanisation and the growing tendency to eat out, festive brunches are a crucial component of any F&B brand.

The restaurant industry in India witnesses 10% per annum growth and is predicted to cross $126 billion by 2020, as per estimates by Aaron Allen & Associates, a global restaurant consultancy. Full-service restaurants, which usually host brunches, will command a lion’s share of the industry.

To entice more and more guests, brands are going all out with their offerings. “The idea is to keep innovating and to offer a more distinguishing experience that the urban customer is constantly on the lookout for,” says Amitesh Singh Virdi, executive chef, Punjab Grill, BKC.

Kala says festive brunches today are a mix of marketing and concepts. “Pool brunches are getting very common. Lots of hotels are also coming up with learning sessions like cookery, shows around kitchens, jazz classes, etc, during brunches.”

LOOKING AT THE PIE

  • 23-30% – Of brunch tariff is the cost of the ingredients and preparation costs
  • 10% – Per annum growth for the restaurant industry in India

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