Creating unique customer experiences at Cha Bar

By Nitin Warikoo

In the Food & Beverage (F&B) industry, the one key factor that distinguishes one café from the other is the unique experience it offers to its customers. At Cha Bar – the brainchild of Ms Priti Paul, Director, Apeejay Surrendra Group – our aim has been to create a first-of-its-kind urban contemporary space which creates an experience that the customers will rejoice and remember for years together.

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I joined Cha Bar in 2013 after having worked in the F&B industry for 16 years. When I was in school, I used to dream of joining the Indian Army but Fate had some other plans and I got through Institute of Hotel Management (IHM), Jaipur. During my industrial training in Rajputana Sheraton, I found operations to be more challenging than other departments and hence decided to be on the front of the house as my career choice.

Working at Cha Bar is like an energy boost, re-energizing myself daily. I am surrounded by a group of highly energetic, young and vibrant team and at the same time guided by equally energetic seniors. A typical day starts with a walk around the store accompanied by a small chit chat with my team on the floor and a telephonic call to the outstation teams. Rest of the day is usually occupied with day to day operational challenges, understanding customer feedback, team suggestions and like that. For us every moment on the floor is important, starting from the opening time. A table left empty is revenue lost, which can never be recovered.

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We, at Cha Bar, believe that although food and beverages are key components of the F&B industry, visual presentation and service are of vital importance as they are the first interactive points for a guest. Music, ambience, service ware, staff uniform all are a part of it. A bad presentation and service can spoil a fabulous tasting dish and similarly a nice presentation and service can lift an average food product. At Cha Bar, we have very crisp training modules which cover almost all areas of operation. These are in the form of self-explanatory presentations which are run through daily for the staff.

The best advice that I can give anyone who wants to join the field of casual dining is “Serve as you would like to be served”.

This advice solves most of the problems which arise on the floor. For example, a customer might have ordered a sandwich but while having it felt that it does not taste as per his expectations and reveals the same to service staff. In such a situation, the simple principle ‘serve as you would like to be served’ helps you decide. If you feel that the staff should change your sandwich and offer you something else, do it for your guest. You not only create an unforgettable experience for the customer but also get a free brand ambassador.

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When I meet people, I challenge them to have country’s best fish and chips served at Cha Bar. Similarly, our selected range of teas is almost impossible to find under one roof. With over 180 different teas to offer clubbed with extensive food menu which can satisfy hunger at any time of the day, we offer the best in the market.

Started in 2000 in Kolkata, Cha Bar went on to create a rage in the F&B industry turning tea from a dry page in history to a lifestyle drink. From Kolkata, Cha Bar expanded to other major cities of the country such as New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Bhubaneswar.

Nitin Warikoo is Head – Cha Bar & Business Development, Apeejay Oxford Bookstores Private Limited

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