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Your attention please! The train to food journey is arriving on Platform 65

Hyderabad-based Platform 65 is a unique theme-based restaurant wherein technology is leveraged to serve food to customers. The tables have mini railway tracks, and the decor is set up such that each table has a station name

Sadgun Patha, MD & Co-founder
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Sadgun Patha, MD & Co-founder 

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Theme-based restaurants are becoming very popular in recent times. Robots have started delivering foods and beverages across the world including India. Though the Covid pandemic has hit the hospitality sector hard, many of these restaurants are recovering very fast with high consumer interest. Hyderabad-based Platform 65 is a unique theme-based restaurant wherein technology is leveraged to serve food to customers. The tables have mini railway tracks, and the decor is set up such that each table has a station name such as Nizamabad, Kamareddy, Warangal, Hyderabad, Sangareddy, Vijayawada, Tenali, Guntur, Rajahmundry, Trivandrum and Ahmedabad.

Here, once the food is prepared, it is delivered to the table through these trains. Once customer picks up the items, the train comes back to the kitchen. Adequate measures are taken by the team for proper maintenance of tracks and trains. Such contactless delivery of food and unique ambience have found many takers for Platform 65. Founded in 2019, the company has not only withstood the adverse impact of the Covid pandemic, it is also planning to expand fast in coming quarters. In a conversation with the Bizz Buzz, company's MD & co-founder Sadgun Patha said that the company will open three more branches in the coming quarter. It is also planning to enter Karnataka with opening of a branch in Bengaluru. He also said that all the technology-powered solutions have been designed and developed by inhouse engineering team with copy rights on many of these technology applications. According to the company, it is adequately funded as of now and all financial metrics remain healthy for the restaurant chain.

Currently, we have set up six restaurants in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh including four in Hyderabad. The flagship restaurant at KPHB, which began operations in November 2019, is company-owned while the remaining restaurants are franchisee owned, but company operated. In the coming quarter, we plan to open three more branches. Of course, we have plans to enter other states soon. We are planning to open a branch in Bengaluru soon. By the year end, another three-four branches are likely to be added

We have a proprietary technology which is designed and developed by our internal team. We have our inhouse engineering team for executing this. I will give a glimpse of how the whole thing is executed. Once the food is prepared, it is placed in one of the trains. Each and every table is connected with a track from the main kitchen. Once the customer picks up the food, the train will come back. It is completely automated. In every branch, we have one team of engineers to execute this process. As I have mentioned earlier, our software programme is proprietary. We have copy rights on some of our technology applications

What is your motivation behind starting up a theme-based restaurant Platform 65? How is the overall business now post the Omicron wave?

We zeroed on F&B (food & beverages) business to enter when we thought of starting something on our own. But, in a city like Hyderabad, we have so many restaurants. Therefore, we did our research for around six months and came up with a train as a theme. We started business 2019 and got good response initially. Due to Covid, every business got impacted due to lockdown. However, as our restaurant reopens, we started to get encouraging response again. This is because the trains deliver the food to the table which is completely contactless. We showcased our contactless dining theme to customers before and after the Covid pandemic. So, Covid hit everyone, but we picked up very fast.

Theme-based restaurants are not new. We have seen many restaurants using robots to deliver foods in India and abroad. What are your thoughts on this aspect?

We have visited many theme-based restaurants before starting up our own chain. But, what we have realised is that each time, these don't matter. Because, theme may not matter after a certain period of time. So, apart from theme, all other things like good food and services are also critical.

Do you also run cloud kitchen? What is your digital interface? Can you throw some light on this aspect?

We don't run any cloud kitchens. Recently, we have launched our own delivery app, which can be used by customers across Hyderabad, Vijayawada and Vizag to order food. Apart from it, we deliver our services through food aggregator apps.

What is your expansion plan in the coming quarters? Do you plan to enter other states?

Currently, we have set up six restaurants in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh including four in Hyderabad. The flagship restaurant at KPHB, which began operations in November 2019, is company-owned, while the remaining are franchisee owned, but company operated. In the coming quarter, we plan to open three more branches. Of course, we have plans to enter other states soon. We are planning to open a branch in Bengaluru soon. By the year end, another three-four branches are likely to be added. We also plan to enter north India in next 3-4 quarters. Moreover, we have two models of Platform 65- one is Platform 65 Mini and Platform 65 Main. When we capture small cities, we go with Platform 65 Mini and when we are going for major cities or metros, we go with Platform 65 Main.

Usually, restaurant business is very competitive with low success rate. Are you adequately funded at this point of time? Is there any fund-raising plan that you can talk about?

We calculate various business metrics on daily basis. We receive good number of repeat customers. We feel that people love to dine out at our place. As far as funding is concerned, we are also into franchise model which take care of cashflows. In the branding aspect, we are in talks to make Platform 65 restaurant as a tourist place. So, whenever a person comes to visit cities like Hyderabad, he or she can come and visit our theme-based restaurant. We have already tied up with Tripadvisor and are planning to tie up with other such entities soon. As far as breakeven point is concerned, we achieve it very fast. Currently, we are able to achieve all the set goals in different aspects- be it franchise, or profitability or revenues.

How Platform 65 is leveraging technology to make the train theme attractive for customers? Can you throw some light on which technologies are being used to deliver food through train on designated tracks?

We have a proprietary technology which is designed and developed by our internal team. We have our inhouse engineering team for executing this. I will give a glimpse of how the whole thing is executed. Once the food is prepared, it is placed in one of the trains. Each and every table is connected with a track from the main kitchen.

Once the customer picks up the food, the train will come back. It is completely automated. In every branch, we have one team of engineers to execute this process. As I have mentioned earlier, our software programme is proprietary. We have copy rights on some of our technology applications.

Debasis Mohapatra
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