This Mumbai-based vegetarian cloud kitchen is providing open access to customers
Mumbai-based restaurant chain Veg Sutra, which offers a variety of affordably-priced vegetarian dishes, cooks in an open-to-view kitchen unlike most cloud kitchens.
In a country of 400 million vegetarians, pure vegetarian restaurants have a distinctive market value – about $17 billion to be precise, according to expertmarketresearch.com. Hence, offering a large variety of vegetarian dishes at pocket-friendly prices is a recipe for success.
Mumbai-based, a chain of pure vegetarian restaurants founded by Santosh Papade in 2011, is a live cloud kitchen that is offering vegetarian dishes at affordable prices. It has six live kitchens in Mumbai located at Andheri, Goregaon, Kurla, Lower Parel, Vashi, and Thane at present.
“At Veg Sutra, we specialise in serving authentic cuisine. Our consistency of taste sets us apart from others in this field. We are proud to say that each one of our outlets is exactly the same as the other. The secret to managing our operations efficiently is a reduced overhead cost and a 21-day training that every recruit of the Veg Sutra family undergoes."
"We are also transparent about our cooking process. Firstly, we distinguish ourselves as a live kitchen and not a typical cloud kitchen. Customers are usually unaware of what goes on behind the curtains of many delivery kitchens. Unlike them, we have translucent glass in front of our kitchens so customers can see what’s happening inside if they choose to,” explains Santosh.
A Mechanical Engineer with a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering, Santosh also has a background in business management.
Born into a vegetarian household, Santosh was a foodie since childhood and aspired to shake things up in the hospitality industry from a young age.
“Vegetarian food is usually stigmatised for being boring and flavourless. I wanted to break this stereotype. Through Veg Sutra, we aim to deliver innovative vegetarian food that is trendsetting and is loved by everyone. I am an ardent lover of vegetarian delights and want to share this pleasure with the world,” he says.
Though drawn to the idea and promise of success that cloud kitchens offer, Santosh was aware that transparency in the cooking process is of utmost importance to food lovers. Hence, he was keen to start a live cloud kitchen, which would be unlike other cloud kitchens that do not provide open access to customers.
Veg Sutra encourages its patrons to visit and reassure themselves of the cooking processes and ingredients, as seen through their glass walls.
Started with an initial investment of about Rs 40 lakh, Veg Sutra has six outlets across Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, and Thane at present. Each outlet houses five brands as part of the cloud kitchen. These are Veg Sutra, Fusion Factory, Meal Bowl, Modern Khichdi, and The Waffle Age. Plans are in the works to increase this number to ten brands soon.
Santosh expresses his pride at having received a funding of Rs 5 crore from venture capitalists for his brand. The team also won the Pioneers of 2021 Award given by the Economic Times.
Veg Sutra has an extensive menu, which includes Mughlai and Chinese cuisine. With a plethora of options to choose from, Santosh shares, “Facts and figures state that our chole bhature, biryani, sandwiches, paneer tikka masala, paneer kadai, moong dal ka halwa, and gulab jamuns are the most-loved dishes. They appeal to many taste buds.”
Veg Sutra’s menu is also available for delivery on various food aggregator platforms such as Zomato and Swiggy. It also has its own dotpe website.
The brand also prides itself on being eco-friendly. It says every order is packed in handy paper bags, and no plastic is used.
Santosh highlights, “We aim to make quality, hygienic, and delicious food accessible to every Indian household. Our food doesn’t contain any added preservatives or artificial colours, and the meals are cost-effective and everyone can relish them without shelling out a fortune.”
Challenges and future plans
Santosh shares that though the first lockdown in March 2020 impacted their business negatively, they managed to power through this phase with concerted and single-minded efforts. The biggest change for them in this period was their delivery model – where earlier they delivered food by themselves, they decided to move to food aggregator platforms during the pandemic.
Further, before the pandemic they owned only Veg Sutra. It was the circumstances and demands during the pandemic that encouraged them to diversify into five brands from every original outlet of theirs. “This helped us reach different target groups and grow further,” explains Santosh.
When asked what sets them apart from others in this field, Santosh is quick to respond saying,
“The staff undergoes a stringent 21-day training where they are familiarised with the norms and standards that every member of the Veg Sutra team has to adhere to. Further, we have a standardised process that we follow at our centralised kitchen and replicate. We also lay out all the recipes on a chart in every kitchen. This model makes it easy to maintain uniformity across our kitchens. This also allows franchise owners to replicate the same and yield profits.”
In fact, Santosh explains they have no direct competition in the pure vegetarian cloud kitchen space. Their direct competitorserves both vegetarian and non-vegetarian offerings, and do not have as many outlets. Places like Cream Center and Shiv Sagar are pure vegetarian but offer in-person dining apart from delivery.
In the coming months, Veg Sutra plans to strengthen its reach 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 says, “In 2019, before the pandemic struck India, we had a revenue of Rs 3 crore from all our outlets, and this year we are on our way to reach Rs 12 crore. This has been possible due to the support of our patrons! Veg Sutra will soon be available pan-India, through our live cloud kitchen offerings. We are also planning to go international through the launch of our ready-to-cook food items, which will be exported to countries in North America and Europe.”
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Edited by Megha Reddy