In a country of 400 million vegetarians, purely vegetarian restaurants have a distinctive market value – around $ 17 billion to be precise, according to expertmarketresearch.com. Therefore, offering a wide variety of vegetarian dishes at affordable prices is the recipe for success.
Based in Mumbai Vegetarian sutra, a chain of purely vegetarian restaurants founded by Santosh Papade in 2011, is a live cloud kitchen that offers vegetarian options at affordable prices. It currently has six live kitchens in Mumbai, located in Andheri, Goregaon, Kurla, Lower Parel, Vashi and Thane.
“At Veg Sutra, we specialize in serving authentic cuisine. Our consistency of taste sets us apart from others in this area. We are proud to say that each of our points of sale is exactly the same as the other. The secret to effectively running our operations is low overhead costs and 21 days of training that every recruit to the Veg Sutra family takes. ”
“We are also transparent about our cooking process. Firstly, we distinguish ourselves as a live kitchen and not as a typical cloud kitchen. Customers are generally unaware of what is going on behind the curtains in many delivery kitchens. Unlike them, we have translucent glass in front of our kitchens so customers can see what’s going on inside if they want to, ”says Santosh.
A mechanical engineer with a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering, Santosh also has a background in business management.
Born into a vegetarian family, Santosh was a foodie since childhood and aspired to make a difference in the hospitality industry from an early age.
“Vegetarian food is generally branded for being boring and tasteless. I wanted to break this stereotype. Through Veg Sutra, we aim to offer innovative vegetarian cuisine that is at the forefront of the trend and appreciated by all. I am an avid fan of vegetarian delicacies and I want to share this pleasure with the world, ”he says.
Although drawn to the idea and promise of success that cloud kitchens offer, Santosh was aware that transparency in the cooking process is of the utmost importance to foodies. Therefore, he wanted to launch a live cloud kitchen, which would be different from other cloud kitchens that do not provide open access to customers.
Vegetarian sutra encourages its customers to visit and reassure themselves about the cooking processes and the ingredients, seen through their glass walls.
Santosh Papade, Founder, Veg Sutra
Started with an initial investment of around Rs 40 lakh, Veg Sutra currently has six outlets in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane. Each outlet is home to five brands as part of the cloud kitchen. These are Veg Sutra, Fusion Factory, Meal Bowl, Modern Khichdi, and The Waffle Age. Plans are underway to increase that number to ten brands soon.
Santosh expresses his pride in having received funding of Rs 5 crore from venture capitalists for his brand. The team also won the Economic Times Pioneers of 2021 award.
The Veg Sutra offers an extensive menu, which includes Mughal and Chinese cuisine. With a plethora of options to choose from, Santosh shares, “Facts and figures indicate that our chole bhature, biryani, sandwiches, paneer tikka masala, paneer kadai, moong dal ka halwa and gulab jamuns are the most popular dishes. They appeal to many taste buds.
Veg Sutra’s menu is also available for delivery on various food aggregation platforms such as Zomato and Swiggy. He also has his own dotpe website.
The brand also prides itself on being eco-responsible. It states that each order is packaged in convenient paper bags and that no plastic is used.
Cheese masala steak by Veg Sutra
Santosh emphasizes: “We aim to make quality, hygienic and delicious food accessible to all Indian households. Our foods contain no added preservatives or artificial colors, and the meals are economical and anyone can enjoy them without spending a fortune.
Challenges and future projects
Santosh shares that although the first foreclosure in March 2020 had a negative impact on their business, they managed to get through this phase with concerted and determined efforts. The biggest change for them during this time has been their delivery model – where earlier they were delivering food on their own, they decided to switch to food aggregation platforms during the pandemic.
Also, before the pandemic, they only had Veg Sutra. It was the circumstances and requirements during the pandemic that encouraged them to branch out into five brands from each of their original outlets. “It helped us reach different target groups and grow further,” says Santosh.
When asked what sets them apart from others in this area, Santosh quickly responds, saying:
“The staff undergo a rigorous 21-day training course where they become familiar with the norms and standards to which each member of the Veg Sutra team must adhere. In addition, we have a standardized process that we follow in our centralized kitchen and that we reproduce. We also present all the recipes on a board in each kitchen. This model makes it easy to maintain uniformity in our kitchens. It also allows franchise owners to replicate the same and generate profit. “
In fact, Suraj explains that they don’t have direct competition in the pure vegetarian cloud kitchen space. Their direct competitor, Rebel Foods, serves both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options and doesn’t have as many outlets. Places like Cream Center and Shiv Sagar are purely vegetarian but offer in-person meals outside of delivery.
Over the next few months, Veg Sutra plans to strengthen its presence in Maharashtra by starting five new outlets in Pune. It is also looking to expand its operations to Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Bengaluru through a franchise business model in 2022.
Santosh said: “In 2019, before the pandemic hit India, we had an income of Rs 3 crore from all of our outlets, and this year we are on the verge of reaching Rs 12 crore. This was made possible thanks to the support of our patrons! Veg Sutra will soon be available across India, via our live cloud cooking offerings. We also plan to go international with the launch of our ready-to-cook food products, which will be exported to countries in North America and Europe.
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