Long Way to Go!
By Bhavya Misra
Food courts are a relatively new phenomenon in India which owes its existence largely to the growth of the mall culture in the country and the rising purchasing power of the people. Despite their rising popularity, they need to evolve further, expand into newer areas and overcome many challenges if they are to become a permanent part of the culinary landscape of India.
ood courts, which started off in the 1980s in the West, have today become an inseparable part of malls, shopping centers, airports, educational institutions and cultural centers abroad. In India, however, they are still at a nascent stage, though increasingly gaining in popularity. Indeed, many Indians go to a mall not only to shop but also to round up their shopping experience with a bite from the food outlets located there, usually on the top floor. Some malls have casual dining restaurants and quick-service outlets clustered together, which become dining destinations in their own right for people looking to enjoy lunch or dinner in a sophisticated, air-conditioned and lively environment. Food courts typically exist indoors and involve a common dining area lined up with stalls of multiple F&B vendors. These cater to a wide swathe of customers: shoppers at a mall, visitors at a cultural center, employees of a large corporate park and even passengers passing through a metro station or airport. Says Amit Burman, co-founder of Lite Bite Foods which runs a number of QSRs, casual-dining restaurants and food court brands in India: “A food court is a place where consumers in large numbers can dine and enjoy different cuisines at a value-formoney price, all under one roof.” Sandeep Kanotra,
FOODSERVICE INDIA EDITION
CHALLENGES OF RETAILING FROM MALLS •
delivery Key Takeaway:
malls. source: Cushman & Wakefield Research
General Manager of QSR and franchise operations at Old World Hospitality – which operates food courts under the Eatopia brand name – defines food courts as a common dining space offering a choice of multiple food vendors which is generally fast paced and self serviced. The dynamics of food courts are simple: high volumes, small ticket price, a choice of cuisines, self-service and a fast-paced, animated atmosphere. The food-court phenomenon in India is being driven primarily by a rapid rise in the number of malls all over the country. Malls and food courts have a symbiotic relationship: good food courts help mall managements increase footfalls and revenue, while food courts rely on a steady stream of customers generated by the shopping opportunities at the malls. Kishore Bhatija, CEO of Inorbit Malls, says: “A food court is a very important element of a mall. Any mall developer needs a proposition which keeps consumers coming back to the property. And food is something that undoubtedly plays a very important role in achieving that target.” Travel Food Services is a sister concern of Blue Foods Company that operates food courts at the Delhi and Mumbai airports. Its CEO Rajeev Panjwani explains: “When there were no malls, there were no food courts. When there were no
airports, there were no food courts. When there were no modern highways, obviously there were no F&B brands lining our inter-city roads. The concept of food courts is typically driven by infrastructure.” Food and footfalls are the two essential elements of food courts. These courts make sense at any location where a large number of people congregate and who may want to enjoy a meal. “Typically a food court would do well in shopping areas, mass transit points, schools and colleges, corporate hubs, venues for fairs...
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