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‘We update our menu constantly to be in sync with the current trends’INTERVIEW

The restaurant space in India over the past decade has been under constant changing atmosphere in terms of menu, ambience, new innovations, etc. Sanju Arora, General Manager, The Irish House in an e-interaction with Akshay Nayak decodes the trends followed by The Irish House to create a niche in the restaurant space in India.

Monday, January 29, 2018, 15:23 Hrs  [IST]

Q According to you, how has the Restaurant segment changed particularly in its operations over the past decade? How do you perceive the same and look forward to tackle it in the competitive market?
The restaurant space is evolving constantly where organised players are learning from global best practices and bringing those to India. Concepts are becoming more holistic where it’s not just about the food but also about the ambience, story and the overall concept. Technology is finding its way into the restaurant space and is increasing convenience for customers. More concepts are coming up in a big way and these aren’t necessarily competition but are in fact fueling more and more consumption as people are eating out more

Q How has The Irish house marked presence and created a niche for itself in the Restaurant segment in India?
The Irish House introduced the missing authentic pub culture to the country when the flagship outpost opened in Mumbai back in 2011. Since then it has expanded across the length and breadth of the country, bringing the pub experience to the neighbourhoods across all major cities. The Irish House has been the recipient of numerous awards including Best Newcomer, Best Bar, Best Pub and a host of awards across all the cities it is present in. As of today, there are 16 Irish Houses present across the country (the Nehru Place, Delhi outlet being the 16th one). The idea has always been to be a market leader in providing a high quality, value for money, consistent and innovative pub experience to our fans across the country.

At The Irish House, the beer fridge contains over 50 beers ranging from international, domestic and craft beers from all over the world. Guests can pick as per their beer-type preference – lagers, wheat, ales, porters, stouts, and ciders; with options on tap as well as in pints. We also have an extensive mix of imported and domestic spirits, a well-curated wine list, signature specialty cocktail creations, community cocktails and classic cocktails. In our current menu, we’ve got sections for Beer Cocktails, Mules, Community Cocktails, and our Top Shelf Signatures. The community cocktails are the favourites for big groups looking for sharable cocktails to share drinking experiences.

The wide range of appetizers, community eats, loaded fries, delicious burgers, grill bowls and the desserts ensure balanced food options for lunch, evening drinks, and for dinner.

Q What special measures do you take to increase the growth of the brand in this segment?
The brand has come a long way since its inception, roughly 6 years back. Having grown to 16 plus locations strong across the country, The Irish House has successfully and consistently provided a complete contemporary pub experience to all our patrons across India despite a trend of most restro pubs having a shelf life of not more than two years approximately. The driving factor for this would be that the brand has evolved with the changing trends while maintaining the core offering of a great experience and the best service which is one of our key achievements, and today has a loyal and strong fan following who are regulars to our establishments across the country.

Q With the timely changing dining and food preferences of the guest, how does the Irish house work closely to fulfil customer satisfaction to satiate these needs?
Right from innovations with food and cocktails by way of an annual menu change, quarterly food & cocktail fests (Hot Dog Fest, Game of Thrones themed cocktails, Oktoberfest specials, etc.); interesting trending promos (Brexit promo, No Shave November, etc.); new beer introductions as and when available in the market; to a strong and constantly evolving event culture (game nights, live bands, karaoke, drinking games, etc), tech integrations (feedback app, etc.) and even tweaks in our interiors – we’re always working towards meeting the evolving customer preferences. We’ve created a niche when it comes to St Patrick’s Day celebrations in India – our larger than life 2-day outdoor carnival. Open bus pub-crawl, a massive carnival, beer games, big bands, a pop-up Irish House bar & kitchen, flea markets, etc – everything is put together in a grand Irish style for our biggest annual event. Add to this a strong and well-structured marketing and communication strategy along with the “cool” events like live rock music bands, karaoke nights, drinking games, pub quizzes, etc.

Q What is your target segment? What is your thought of expanding into the tier-II and tier-III cities?
The core target audience continues to be the 25 to 40 age bracket. This is an equal mix of couples, single men and women (the single women ratio having increased significantly), depending on the day of the week and type of concept.

The House is currently spread across Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Delhi, and Belagavi with 16 outlets across the country. We’re also expanding with 4 new outlets in Connaught Place (Delhi), Mall of India (Noida), BKC (Mumbai) and Koregaon Park (Pune). Tier-II and Tier-III cities are emerging as extremely strong markets. Our venture into the city of Belagavi has been extremely successful and we have seen an unexpectedly good response. We are constantly on the lookout for good spaces to build on our vision of taking the Irish experience to all the cities across the country and if something promising comes our way, you can expect an Irish House in a neighbourhood near you.

Q Various Restaurant chains have a variation in their menu with respect to the region of their service; do The Irish House outlets follow this trend too? Why?
Each market brings its own nuances, and there are always tweaks that we adapt to depending on what the customer is looking for. Most of our customers look for a consistent experience across each location of ours they visit, and hence we make sure that the Irish House experience is never diluted at any of our outposts. Additionally we are always striving to bring more options for our guests by way of various national and city specific food fests, cocktail specials and chef’s special.

Q What are the new innovations in the menu, ambience, etc. that you consider being a driving force in the brand’s recognition?
We update our menu constantly to be in sync with the current trends and keeping guest feedback into consideration. In terms of the F&B, the plan would definitely be to introduce something new to our guests – we have an interesting line up for the upcoming menu (both food and cocktails), having included the current popularity for all the latest trends in the industry. We’re always on the look out to introduce more beers in our portfolio to give our guests all the possible options under one roof. With technology becoming a key driver for trends in the bar space, we’re planning to have more integration with tech – right from tablets, e-wallets, loyalty, pre ordering, data analytics, etc. which will help drive better customer experience, interaction and engagement. With our more recent outlets (like the one in Noida, Thane, BKC) we have also brought certain contemporariness in our ambience to further elevate the brand experience and support our growth as well as recognition.

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