With the Olympics going on now, everyone is talking about races. There is a race in the Indian Restaurant industry that is now getting larger with big bucks starting to find its way and the key players beginning to press the accelerator - The race to create a large Biryani brand.
I believe that what happened to Pizza in the 1960s/70s in the US will happen to Biryani in India in the 2010s/20s.
- This is a single product based (Biryani) model
- Biryani is a complete meal in itself
- Suits multiple sales channels - Dine-in, Take-away, Delivery, Party Catering. The product is easy to serve, pack, carry and deliver
- Suits Indian palates
- Cannot be made easily made at home
- Based on the staple of Indian food - Rice (a.k.a Pizza - Bread)
- The customer is willing a price that makes reasonable business sense - Even a road-side Biryani place is able to sell Biryani at 50-60 bucks.
- There are no international brands in this space - So this has got to be a home-grown Indian brand
1) Paradise Hyderabad - The Usain Bolt of the race (though this is probably a 10 year marathon rather than a 100 day race). Has a great fan following, undoubtedly the most well known Biryani brand in India, based out of the Biryani Mecca - Hyderabad. They are starting to flex their muscles and expand with significant interest coming from Private Equity players. Expect to see an announcement soon about a Private Equity fund investing a significant amount of money in Paradise.
2) Ammi's Biryani, Bangalore - The new modern kid on the block rocked the boat with their exceptional packaging and marketing. Now with a 40 Crore investment from a PE player (Saif Partners), they have the means the press the pedal and surge ahead.
3) Thalapakatti Biryani, Dindigul - Born in a small town in Tamil Nadu, they are now expanding aggressively in Tamil Nadu. Their Biryani style may not appeal to customers across India as they use the smaller Jeera Samba rice and not the Basmati Rice, but their legacy & unique taste may create a fan following.
4) Jaffer Bhai's Delhi Darbar, Mumbai - They claim to be Biryani King of Mumbai. If they truly are, then they have every chance to replicate the model in other cities where cost of doing business is presumably lower.
5) Viva Hyderabad, NCR - While not making a lot of noise, they operate 12 outlets in the NCR region. Again like Jaffer Bhai's if they have a model that works in NCR, they should be able to replicate it in other markets.
6) Bawarchi, Hyderabad - While they have been stubborn about keeping themselves as a single unit and are not as commercially successful as Paradise, Biryani connoisseurs will tell you that they probably serve the best Biryani commercially available anywhere in India at ridiculously low prices. With the brand power and a formidable offering that they have, it shouldn't take them much time and effort to wake up from slumber and be a part of the race, if they choose to. Theirs is a case of them wanting to be a part of the race.
7) Hyderabad House - They have tried to expand geographically much faster than any other Biryani brand. It may be a case of them running a 100 m sprint, while the actual race is the marathon. Having said that, they should be able to get their act right in time as the race heats up.
8) Star Briyani Ambur - This little town on the Bangalore-Chennai highway is dotted with Biryani joints - all with the same name - Star Briyani (no typo on the spelling). The next generation of this 100+ year old brand is now starting to explore growth.
9) Several others across India attempting to qualify for the race - hopefully a few of them will end up participating in the race and who knows, maybe spring a surprise or two on the biggies.
This race is abolsutely exciting to me as all the racers are pretty much in the starting blocks with some having a reasonable upfront lead and muscle power to back them. It will be interesting to review this space in a few years to see how the race has progressed.
If I were to place my bets today, it would be on Paradise winning the gold medal, but they need to execute really well and not let their current stature and success get in the way. The field is open for the silver, bronze and possibly, several other medals.
Disclosure: I run a tiny Biryani business in Bangalore (www.manis.in) and we are like this small town kid with virtually no backing and resources, but with dreams of winning an Olympic medal. So we are one among the several others I have talked about above.