The story of Cafe Pico, a chain of cafes that has struck a chord with Mumbaikars
Mumbaikars have a big appetite and in the Maximum City eating options are galore. A recent addition to this list is Pico from Nilgai Foods. Nilgai Foods was setup by Arjun Gadkari & Abhay Jaiswal in early 2011 with an ambition to make global cuisine within the reach of citizens of Mumbai. While Nilgai Foods is the corporate entity, Pico is the consumer facing brand. Today there are six outlets of Café Pico and Pico Express spread across the Western suburbs and central Mumbai.
Gadkari, president, Nilgai Foods has always been a foodie and while living in Italy during his college days had worked as a chef in a fine dining Italian restaurant. “That experience gave me enough insight into the backend operations to get into the food industry,” says Gadkari. Later when Gadkari came to Mumbai and was working in a private-equity firm, he tracked the Indian food industry, which made him realize the potential of space here. Nilgai chose Mumbai to setup their first restaurant for a variety of reasons. “Mumbai is the most international city in India. I have been in India only for few years, but this city has a very international perspective and mindset. There is a decent size affluent community here as well,” explains Gadkari. While he has not worked in Delhi or Bangalore, he feels that in a city like Delhi, having more contacts, better relations with people would contribute to moving ahead in business. But Mumbai is devoid of any such requirements to do business, says Gadkari.
Nilgai Foods is funded by five people who are all shareholders and according to Gadkari the company will look for external funding in the next 12-18 months. Today they have a team strength of 150 people across functions in their office, restaurants and distribution. Jaiswal is CEO of Nilgai Foods and was a strategy consultant in London before he decided to put his own advise to practice. Nicole Gonsalves Pereira is the head chef at Nilgai and has worked with French and British restaurants in the past.
Café Pico and Pico Express are two formats of restaurants that Nilgai Foods are currently running. Café Pico is a fine dining space with more experimental food. The average order value at Café Pico would be Rs 500 per person. According to Gadkari, these two outlets are have been opened to market and advertise the Pico brand better. “Here people can get more in touch with international food and have a fine dining experience.” Pico Express on the other hand is situated in areas which can cater to people who want to pick up their food and move. The four Pico Express outlets across Mumbai are serviced through a central kitchen, which replenishes offerings at these outlets thrice a day. “If you are eating food at 7or 8 in the evening, that food would have been sent mostly an hour back. So you are never eating food that was sent first thing in the morning,” explains Gadkari.
Going forward Nilgai Foods has plans to launch range of manufactured products which will be sold through supermarkets and hypermarkets. “We are using the concept of central kitchen to establish ourselves as food players. Whatever a central kitchen can produce we want to maximize it,” says Gadkari. Sometime in the future Nilgai Foods also has plans to open gourmet restaurants under the Pico brand name. These gourmet restaurants when they come up, “will be something which will be noticeable, a flagship store, something from the publicity point of view and we won’t be able to have more than one in a city like Mumbai,” explains Gadkari. Immediate plans include entering other Indian cities as well as increasing the number of outlets in Mumbai.
Café Pico also recently launched its first Facebook App called Club Pico. The App allows customers to interact with other Pico customers, by letting them upload images of Pico food and themselves while hanging out at Pico outlets. “With every interaction, members of the club will earn points, which can be redeemed for monetary benefits,” explains Jaiswal. 10 points is equal to 1 INR. So if one collects 500 points, he/she gets Rs 50 worth of food/beverages for free. So next time hunger strikes, head the Pico way.