There comes a time perhaps a couple of days every other month when I dig into a good salad, or a bowlful of soup. No, it isn’t when I’m sick; I have ‘khichdi’ then. I’m generally an unhealthy glutton with a lot of meat in my diet (the usual suspects are steaks, burgers and pizzas. It’s junk, I know). The soup or the salad is to cool me off and maintain some semblance of balance in my diet.
There are, however, far healthier people out there who religiously tuck into salads and soups as a choice. “Healthy eating is the world’s fastest growing food market trend. A vast majority of the population is looking to reduce fat in their regular diet while choosing fresher, natural foods,” says Soujanya Obulapu, Founder of Hyderabad –based Soups n’ Salads.
Started in 2013, Soups n’ Salads is a ‘quick-service fine-dining restaurant’ that serves a variety of health-foods like soups, salads, wraps, healthy desserts, virgin drinks, smoothies, and protein shakes, etc. All their food is either baked or grilled and they do not use any frozen food or preservatives in their dishes. “We serve about a 100 customers a day and all our offerings are tailored to the preferences and the dietary requirements of the customers. We make all our vinaigrettes and sauces fresh and specific to every single customer, which is our biggest differentiating factor from a Subway,” reveals Soujanya.
Soujanya, an IT-analyst-from-the-US-turned-chef, attended the California Culinary Academy before coming to Hyderabad to set up shop. “We want to promote a healthy lifestyle through our food. We cater to a health and fitness oriented clientele. Our end goal is to be synonymous with a healthy lifestyle in India,” shares Soujanya.
All of the produce used at Soups n’ Salads is locally procured. The menu is changed every season to keep in sync with the seasonal produce and to give their customers variety to choose from. They’re currently featuring their monsoon menu.
“Most of our marketing is done via word-of-mouth and reviews on portals like Zomato and Burrp. We have an active Facebook page with a rating of 4.6/5.0,” states Soujanya. They also organize events like foodie meet-ups, food tasting events, cooking classes for kids and adults, etc. to garner more attention and educate people on healthy eating.
The initial investment for the primary Soups n’ Salads outlet was close to Rs 50 lakhs given the prime location. The team is gunning towards setting up kiosks in corporate offices both within Hyderabad and in the rest of the country. They are also exploring opportunities to set up branches in various tier-1 and tier-2 cities within the next three years.
“Our biggest challenge, initially, was to educate people on healthy-eating. We talk about this on a daily basis on our social media pages and have also included relevant information about the topic on our menus,” explains Soujanya. “The rising cost of food is also a major concern,” she adds.
Three things to keep in mind while running a restaurant:
- Employee Satisfaction – The driver for the best customer service is a satisfied employee.
- Finding right vendors who can source fresh food of consistent quality.
- Well-trained staff that believes in the company’s vision and values.
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This story is a part of the ‘F&B Entrepreneurs’ series presented in association with ‘Chilli Paneer – A DBS Production‘.