If you close your eyes and think of South Indian food the first thing that comes to mind are the soft idlys and vadas with a combination of hot sambar and nicely grated coconut chutney. Now combine this with some classical rock music. Heaven! Introducing Café Idly Café Idly was founded by two brothers Dinesh Bhaktinathan and Rajesh Bhaktinathan, with the intention of doing something unique and out-of-the-box. Their love for South Indian food and rock music, they decided, could come together to form Café Idly. Located in Frazer Town, Bangalore, Café Idly is now packed with Bangloreans who enjoy ‘Idlys with Rock n Roll’. As you enter Café Idly, the ambience will devour you seeing the dim lights and a beautiful electric guitar in the spot light. The classical rock music would put you into a mood of a hard rock café or a Jimmy’s but with the six different varieties of idlys and other South Indian food in the menu; you would know where you are. Super- soft idlis with gun powder, samosas, vadas, cutlets and each served with two types of chutnies is a speciality of Café Idly. It was a college day dream concept of the Bhaktinathan brothers, both who have completed their MBAs with around seven years of experience in the corporate world. Not one to leave dreams as just dreams, these brothers have made it a reality. Café Idly has long term plans to spread its touch to different parts of Bangalore but now has to still grow and hopes to be a budding podium for new growing musicians and bands.
Now proud owners of Café Idly, both the brothers found some time to give a few tips about their success so far and their hard work behind the combination of traditional South Indian food and some classical rock music. What made you start Café Idly?
Restaurant has been our dream since college but we hesitated due to our limited budget. A regular restaurant or a burger joint was out of the question for a new start- up. But that did not limit our creativity. In order to beat the competition we had to stand out from the crowd. That’s how we got the idea of combing traditional South Indian fast-food specializing in Idlys but with a Classic Rock touch. We thought that this idea has never been done before and would definitely suit the ‘palate’ of the well-travelled, well-read Bangalore audience. Since Bangalore is considered the Rock capital of India, “Cafe Idly” – ‘Idlys with Rock n Roll’ was born. What has been the key to your business’s success?
We believe that our success could be only through our customers, so we gave our core focus on the overall customer experience. Another factor that kept us going forward was by believing that being consistent in whatever we do is more important than being the best. Finally of course leveraging our USP and creating a lot of buzz in the market with the help of earned PR and Social Media. What are the major challenges in your line of business and your measures to overcome them?
Every business has its own benefits and challenges. We had our share — like finding the right people. This could be solved to some extent with the right kind of interview procedure and with the right amount of training. It’s a business rule to have an USP to be able to receive attention and be news worthy. In our case, “Cafe Idly” – ‘Idlys with Rock n Roll’ itself is such a unique concept thereby helping us to create the required buzz in the market. We ensured the overall customer experience and word of mouth referrals. Social media surely helped us a lot to increase our customer numbers. Our strategy was smart product pricing keeping in mind the ever-increasing inflation.Since our focus has always been the entire customer experience which includes the ambience, customer service, quality andgeneral hygiene, our customers don’t mind paying a slight premium for our products. Have you benefitted from the use of any specific technology for your regular operations?
Even if it was not a part of our day to day operations, applications like ‘Hootsuite – (which helps you to schedule posts to your various social media accounts like, FB, Twitter etc) have helped us to streamline our Social Media marketing activities to a great extent. What has been your strategy for Customer Satisfaction?
As mentioned before, we believe in the overall customer experience. We think the best way of gauging the satisfaction level is by having an open conversation with as many customers as possible. We also tried the concept of Feedback Form. It may sound old school, but this strategy of requesting guests to fill in our FB forms has helped us a lot in extracting exact, honest & instant feedback. This includes both positive and negative feedbacks from our guests. We also used Referral Cards. It is understood that unless and until a customer is satisfied he/she is not going to refer your business in a positive way to his friends and family. What has been your expansion strategy?
We plan to expand the Café and have a bigger sit-down restaurant, so that we can also host live bands. We’ve already got several requests but the café is a bit small to do anything now. We want Café Idly to eventually be a cultural hub for budding musicians and artists. We have plans for expanding the menu too. Since we specialize in Idlys, as of now we have 6 very different types of Idlys (the Burger Idly, Banana Idly also called Kadubu – a Mangalore speciality, Kanchipuram Idly, Gunpowder Idly etc). We plan to introduce more varieties of idlys and other south Indian dishes in the future. Maybe once we set-up the whole place and further standardize our operations, we can adopt a franchisee model and have several cafés in the city. What, according to you, are the top 3 skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
We think marketing, taking calculated risks and being good with numbers will really help one to be a successful entrepreneur. To know more about Café Idly – www.cafeidly.in