Some five years back one couldn’t see all this restaurant culture in Srinagar which is rampant everywhere these days. The cafés, the restaurants, the juice bars and what not is found in markets today. What happened that kick started this culture in Srinagar? Is it good or is it bad? Before commenting on good or bad I would mention what did actually happen that resulted in mushrooming of restaurants in Srinagar and other towns of valley.
Reason one, Kashmiris did actually deserve all this outing culture. This culture was dearly missing and was long overdue. Luncheon, dinner out and hourly meals with family, friends and colleagues wasn’t existing in our lives. Due to globalisation at the hands of social media Kashmiris like all other were exposed to this dining out culture in the last five year in a profound manner. Therefore it was inevitable for the restaurant business to bloom and it did.
Secondly, restaurants do offer entertainment avenues for the public and it became pretty strong case in Kashmir. Kashmir is a place, which lacks in entertainment avenues. We don’t have cinemas here, theatre doesn’t exist, and amusement parks aren’t heard off. Amid all this restaurants turned out to be solace for the public who were seeking some sort of daily entertainment after work or at the weekends and relax during their leisure time. This is the reason where many of the cafés in Srinagar have turned their dining space into platform for music events, literature, poetry, book launches etc. However it must be brought into notice that more than few of these restaurants forgot to focus on food and instead utilised all their energy on being part of the entertainment industry by spending most of the capital on interior stuff rather than on selling quality food. Nevertheless restaurants offering entertainment options for the public was a strong reason for mushrooming of restaurants.
Third reason where I don’t take too much of pride in mentioning this but Kashmiris are trend followers. We follow trends ferociously be it pursuing MBBS or MBA or looking for a job in education department or a relationship officer in banks. These days new trend in Kashmir is running a restaurant. Many of the restaurateurs decided to run a restaurant because this was the trend in the market. Further many found this business glamorous and flamboyant more than anything else. Few of the Kashmiri restaurateurs who ran their restaurant business in a flamboyant way had resulted in other’s taking inspiration and ended up establishing restaurants themselves and that too without proper plans. Worry is that!
Experts further cement the idea that ease of entry barriers was a reason where most of the young people found this business prompting rather establishing manufacturing plants or factories. Simply one needs to rent a space and hire a chef and job done- restaurant off and running. This easiness isn’t available if one wants to establish a manufacturing unit or any sort of factory.
All in all restaurants are everywhere and the trend won’t decline till few more years. Now back to the question, is it good or bad? Good it is because in this episode beneficiary has been customer for a simple fact that competition among restaurants has resulted in offering customers better food and service at competitive prices. But many industry observers see the trend of establishing restaurants declining after few years for a very reason how many restaurants after all? How many restaurants can survive with a given population? Someday sense will prevail, brakes will be applied and trend of establishing newer restaurants will vanish. Having restaurants at every corner of the town will mean tougher competition, less profitability and higher costs which in turn might put many restaurateurs in a tight spot. Such situation would result many restaurants either to shut down by themselves or be forced to shut down. Further the trend will die down because more youth will be made aware that running a restaurant doesn’t mean money will flush from the ceilings. Entrepreneurs are advised to study the market properly before going for any business. Bloomberg once published an article referred as five W of marketing and stressed to follow it in sequence. Five Ws of marketing are: why, who, what, where and when. Answer to these in sequence is critical for the proper understanding of an opportunity. And I am afraid to say industry experts believe many of the Kashmiri restaurateurs didn’t analyse whether the opportunity is big enough. Nevertheless, restaurants are everywhere but not to be forever!