Eating out is one of the favourite pastimes of people here. With lip-smacking food available at a call or a click away, Indians are always ready for a bite. The combined F&B service market is worth Rs 2,04,438 crore and it is growing at  a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23-24% and is expected to touch Rs 3,80,000 crore by 2017.

And so Indian markets have recently opened up to some of the biggest internationally acclaimed fast-food chains. Top brands, like Wendy’s and Taco Bell, are now making their presence felt in cities like Delhi and Mumbai. And the markets are responding quite positively to the new entrants.

“We have got a very positive response till now,” says Bakshish Dean, Director & CEO, Prime Gourmet Private Limited which operates Johnny Rockets in India. “For the last two years we have been constantly working hard to provide quality and fresh products to our guests and this has been well received by our customers. Value for money which Indian consumers are known to swear by don’t mean the cheapest products. They look for different attributes and we have constantly provided that to our consumers.”

For Wendy’s, the experience of opening the store has been perfect too. “The response has been great and we’ve been working towards enhancing our offer as we move along. We are soon completing a year in India and have received an overwhelming response from our consumers. We have introduced our new menu across all our restaurants. The burgers start at Rs.39 and the value meals at Rs.69,” says Jasper Reid, Chief Executive, Wendy’s India.

Food makes up half of our consumption expenditure. One can say this trend is not likely to change for almost 2025, thanks to the large young population of this country. So, why have these international restaurants chosen India as their launch ground?

There are two answers to this question. One, following the success of old entrants in international food business, the market is beginning to appear attractive to potential investors. And the second reason has to do with the rising demand for food joints in Indian cities.

Alexander Troughton, Head of Marketing for Jamie Oliver Restaurants India says, “We saw the huge success of Domino’s (who recently opened their 1000th store) in India, and the nation’s love of pizza, and saw a real gap in the market. Very few places are offering healthy pizzas at an affordable price and we feel that customers — especially millennial — are crying out for real food made from real ingredients. We make our dough fresh in-store every day and supplies are delivered daily to ensure that the best ingredients go into our pizzas – and we’ve still managed to keep prices affordable. It can be done. Good, healthy food should be for everyone and this is an idea whose time has come.”

Jasper Reid, Chief Executive – Wendy’s India says, “The food service market in India is $130 billion and dominated by independent players. But usually, there is a progression where chain restaurants have a tendency to overtime, replace independent restaurants and take more dominant share of the market. This is something that we see happening in the country — so we feel that we have forayed into the country at the right juncture. Significantly, consumers are interested in an upscale quick service, which we offer as a QSR++ (Quick Service Restaurant which features fine dining area, provides cutlery, nice ambience of a restaurant) model, which means offering a place where a consumer would like to spend time amidst the speed and convenience of a QSR. The moment you enter Wendy’s , you can experience this — from the décor, ambience to the food and service.  We have created an environment that is conducive for families and individuals to enjoy and relish a meal. There is no queuing in front of a chaotic kitchen, and the food is served beautifully in proper crockery – upping your meal experience from the start.”

There is good news. The new stores are not just for metro cities but will soon start their operations in tier II cities as well. “We are on track for 40 to 50 sites in the next 4 – 5 years in across India. At the moment we’re looking at Mumbai and the rest of Southern and Western part of India,” says Jasper Reid, Chief Executive, Wendy’s India.

The marketing activities are needed greatly for the new outlets’ shares. Jasper Reid, Chief Executive, Wendy’s India, says, “In terms of marketing, we have gone beyond traditional PR, Advertising and Digital tools and engaged in marketing through direct influencers. We have in the past associated with Royal Mavericks where we hosted the riders at our restaurant for breakfast and an influencer group Gurgaon Moms for one of their meet ups. We also had a jamming session with Music Konnects that helped us reach out to our core consumers. At our Sohna Road restaurant, we organized a science workshop and kitchen tour for school kids. Most recently, we associated with Food Talk India to bring together food bloggers and influencers for our Cyber Hub restaurant launch.”

The taste didn’t reach India without its decent share of challenges. “The challenges of QSR are the same all round the world from the right location to every brand wants the best sites and customers want quality, value and consistency every single day. Finding the sweet spot without compromising on the food and the experience has been our focus consistently. Finding the right people who can live and deliver our values is also important. We want to have a team of young and dynamic entrepreneurs who go out of the way to deliver a phenomenal experience,” says Jasper Reid, Chief Executive, Wendy’s India.

Really, there is no more sincere love than the love for food.

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