Platter Hospitality cooking up expansion plan for 'Oudh 1590' brand
Kolkata's home-grown fine-dining biryani brand 'Oudh 1590', floated by two brothers, which has already started giving the city's traditionally stronger biryani brands like Shiraz, Nizam, Aminia, and relatively newer Arsalan and Paradise from down South, a run for their money-albeit in a somewhat different category, has now lined up an ambitious plan of expanding pan India and some overseas destinations at an appropriate time. Speaking to BIZZ BUZZ in an exclusive interview Shiladitya Chaudhury, co-founder and director, Platter Hospitality Pvt Ltd, shares his views on how Kolkata's biryani culture and biryani business are evolving and seeks to drive home the point that good food is sold without alcohol
The group has nine outlets in Kolkata including two under the banner of Chapter 2, while seven are under the brand Oudh 1590. This year, we are planning to open two or three more new outlets. From 2022, we are planning to move outside Kolkata and make our presence in Bengaluru, Delhi and Mumbai
During the initial phases of lockdown, we were hit hard. But fortunately, when phases of unlocking began and we reopened our restaurants following all healthcare guidelines and sanitisation process, we regained our business and position in the market quickly. In fact, we opened new restaurants during this unlocking phase as well
How does 'Oudh 1590' stand out from other popular biriyani joins of Kolkata like Shiraz, Arsalan, Aminia, and now Paradise from Hyderabad?
Oudh 1590 is completely different from Shiraz, Arsalan, Paradise and others because we showcase detailed Awadhi (Lucknowi delicacies) cuisine unlike the others, which is customised to the taste buds of Kolkatans. Oudh 1590 is a complete period dining experience. Be it the architecture, the costumes, artefacts, background music and the recipe we wanted our customers to go back with an experience which they wouldn't have imagined sitting in Kolkata. Each of the standalone at Oudh 1590 is an architectural marvel, recreating the essence of the old-world Lucknow or Awadh, as it was known then, in every corner. The murals, the floor tiles, the chandeliers, the dining table or the bronze plated crockery and cutlery resemble the grandeur of the era. Besides, keeping in mind the growing health consciousness among the connoisseurs of good food, we have been very particular about health and hygiene factor and also about not using artificial colours.
You are a music director and your brother- Debaditya, co-founder, is a member of the popular Bengali music band, Lakkhichhara. How did the restaurant journey start and how has the journey been so far?
Besides our love for music, we have all along been passionate about food. Quite significantly, the Lucknowi (Awadhi) biryani is the footprint the Moghuls left on the eastern part of India. From Lucknow, the biryani moved to Kolkata when, in 1856, Nawab Wajid Ali Shah was deposed by the British. His team of cooks moved with him and so did the biryani. In Kolkata the biryani entered poorer homes, which could not afford meat every day, so the meat was replaced by potatoes. Aurangzeb is believed to have invaded the South and appointed the Nizam-ul-Mulk, who later as the Asfa Jahi ruler became the Nizam of Hyderabad. That explains the movement of the Biryani down south.
But with the passage of time, Kolkata's biryani or Awadhi cuisine has traversed a long way from new market's cosy corner called Nizam, or Aminia, or Shiraz or Arsanal to plush fine dining joins. Experiments are still on to add fresh gastronomical delights to this time tasted Nawabi cuisine.
Being foodies ourselves, we had thought of carrying on with this gastronomical experiments. Oudh 1590 near Deshapriya Park in southern parts of Kolkata was the first restaurant from the group- Platter Hospitality Pvt Ltd, which provided a unique and one-of-its-kind period dining experience. Buoyed with its success in a short span of time, we (along with my brother- Debaditya Chaudhury) opened the second outlet of Oudh 1590 in Salt Lake in June 2016 and the flagship outlet beside Vivekananda Park in July 2017. Oudh 1590 is also present at Naktala and Jessore Road. We are now present in north Kolkata as well. Our passion for food continues to drive us to gift Kolkatans its first retro dining restaurant, 'Chapter 2', at Mani Square Mall in partnership with Mani Group in March 2016. Last year, the latest outlet of 'Chapter 2' opened at Southern Avenue.
But what about your love for music?
Mind you that 'Chapter 2', the newest culinary destination of Kolkata, has rekindled the memories of Anglo-Indian food and live music culture, for which Blue Fox and Sky room at Park Street was globally famous, with its décor, ambiance and of course, food. A retro décor has been created with murals of Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Marilyn Monroe and a Cadillac Bar to complement the mood. The music played is strictly from 50's to 80's that resonates with the idea of time-honored music from that era.
Where and how do you position 'Oudh 1590' brand?
'Oudh 1590' is a complete period dining experience. It is democratising fine dining and taking it to the next level. That's how we have been and would like to position 'Oudh 1590'. And mind you that Kolkata is one of the fastest growing F&B markets. And Bengalis' love towards biryani and Chinese has always been on top of everything.
How did the lockdown period go for restaurant business like yours?
During the initial phases, we were hit hard. But fortunately, when phases of unlocking began and we reopened our restaurants following all healthcare guidelines and sanitisation process, we regained our business and position in the market quickly. In fact, we opened new restaurants during this unlocking phase as well.
How many outlets do you have at this point in time? How many more do you propose to add, say over the next two-three years?
The group has nine outlets across the city, two are under the banner of Chapter 2, while seven are under the brand Oudh 1590. This year, we are planning to open two or three more new outlets. From 2022, we are planning to move outside Kolkata and prove that good food is sold without alcohol. We are keeping our fingers crossed at this point in time, but we have plans to make our presence in Bengaluru, Delhi and Mumbai. We have actually lined up an ambitious plan of expanding pan India and some overseas destinations at an appropriate time.
Would you take the franchise route, going forward, or your new outlets would be company owned?
We follow a COCO model. (Company owned and Company operated). For a cuisine as detailed as Awadhi we can't afford to depend on a franchise model.
So, what's cooking now?
We are now working on a QSR (Quick Service Restaurant) format under the mother brand-Oudh. This will be rolled out soon. Let the cuisine be a surprise. The group is also coming up with a roll chain 'Chaudhury and Co' and the first outlet will be opened at Southern Avenue very soon…within this year. Besides, we are also planning to start a high-end Bengali restaurant soon.