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Fine dining is dying. Well, at least that’s what Anurag Katriar would have you believe; and considering he’s the director of deGustibus Hospitality—which owns some of Mumbai’s most popular eateries—you’re bound to take his word for it. Having launched the fine dining restaurant Indigo in Colaba over a decade and a half ago, Katriar and his company have now slowly turned to what is called ‘fast casual’ dining, which seems to be a huge hit among millennials.

“The idea originated sometime last year when we were looking to penetrate the next level of market after fine dining, casual dining and bulk dining,” says Katriar. “We were toying with the idea of a QSR (quick service restaurant) but eventually combined the positives of both a QSR and a casual dining kitchen and positioned ourselves as an ‘affordable casual dining’ establishment.”

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The advantages of fast casual dining

Katriar says the consumer has the advantage of good prices, high-speed delivery and comfortable ambience of a diner—which was previously possible at places a little more impersonal like a food court. “From a personal perspective, the concept of limited service reduces the manpower cost, while the space required for the kitchen is less since it is driven by a central kitchen. Being a relatively low-capital model, our expansion can be much, much quicker.”

D:OH!—deGustibus’s newest baby

D:OH! is for everyone, says Katriar—be it a family out on a weekend, some colleagues lunching on a weekday, ladies assembled for a kitty party or young millennials seeking an affordable value-for-money dining and drinking experience. To break it down further, it works something like this: consumers approach the counter, order, pay and collect the food themselves like a QSR, but they also get the experience of a dining restaurant by way of ambience, the comforts of a table, basic services like water, clearance of dirty dishes and the like.

“The best thing about the restaurant is that it’s uncomplicated food served on uncluttered and unpretentious plates. The cuisine cuts across various food genres at a very reasonable price amidst a trendy yet upscale ambience. The quality and presentation of food is several notches higher than a QSR, but the consumer experience is more like a diner.”

The future of dining in India

As the purchasing power of the average Indian increases, Katriar says the sector should see a very robust growth in the near future. “I believe that the eating trend is moving back towards simpler, uncomplicated food which does not necessarily challenge your palate,” he says. “Combine that with good VFM proposition and there is a massive market waiting for you. There is surely a big opportunity in this segment and it is here to stay, but at the same time, I expect many innovations in this segment in coming years.”

To know more about D:OH!, click here.

Image Credit: deGustibus Hospitality

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