Started by Priyank Sukhija, CEO & MD in 1999, First Fiddle Restaurants was one of the first brands to introduce themes to the F&B industry. Sukhija started his journey with Lazeez Affaire, focusing on the concept of fine dining. Following its success, he launched brands such as Warehouse Cafe, Tamasha, Lord of The Drinks, Flying Saucer Cafe, and more. The brand is now planning an expansion around the country in cities such as Pune, Lucknow, Hyderabad, Chennai, and more. Asmita Mukherjee spoke with Sukhija to know more about his focus areas for the company.
You ventured into the F&B business at 19 years of age. How has the journey been since then?
At an early age, I realised that nothing makes me happier than eating and sharing a delicious meal. Food, music, and innovation were what always inspired me and hence I ventured into an area that could fulfil this passion. In a career spanning 23 years, I have managed to open more than 30 different outlets and have created some of the most talked-about brands in the industry – Misosexy, Bougie, Diablo, Plum by Bent Chair, Dragonfly Experience, Lord of the Drinks, Lazeez Affaire, The Flying Saucer Cafe, and several more.
Every brand of yours offers different vibes and different cuisines. How difficult is it to ideate, launch and sustain such brands?
It’s a challenge that I love to take on, and often travel to broaden my horizons and experiences. I have found that moving out of one’s comfort zone cures a creative block better and faster. I believe that my only competition is myself and hence, with every brand I try to one-up myself which drives me to think away from the norm. My primary way to navigate through launching and sustaining my brands is to invest and cultivate. To see my ideas and concepts bear fruit and be loved by everyone only pushes me to come up with better ideas and concepts so that my next venture is an even bigger success than the last.
How do you keep up to date with the different themes that are coming up in the F&B industry across the globe?
One have to reinvent the wheel all the time. What used to work 5-10 years ago doesn’t anymore and what didn’t work back then is all the rage today. Experiential dining is my forte and I try to offer new experiences every time I open a new outlet. Each restaurant has its own exclusively curated cuisine, signature drinks, decor, and music that not only compliments the theme but also enhances the entire experience. Moreover, the different events held at the outlets are also kept in line with the concept and theme of the outlet for an immersive experience.
What are your expansion plans?
I am forever in launch mode. My immediate future plans include Noche and Tickled Pink, which are ready to open their doors to Delhi. While Noche pays homage to Latin vibes with its heavy art influences, Tickled Pink is a feel-good comfort corner, a place where you would love to hang out with your loved ones and indulge in the fusion twists to favourite authentic dishes from every corner of India. We are also rapidly expanding into tier 2 cities through various franchise models for our most-loved brands.
Kindly elaborate on your funding, investment and expansion plans
We pride ourselves in using internal funding most often than not, using the profits from outlets for further expansion and growth. However, for specific outlets, we do have investors and partners. Our expansion plans revolve around a combination of both owned and franchise outlets. We prefer to open company-owned outlets in our core markets of Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore, whereas opting for the franchise route for non-core markets.
What innovative plans do you have for First Fiddle?
My plans for First Fiddle always focus on growth in terms of creativity, offerings, and ideation in all aspects, from the cuisine to the decor to the vibe. We put considerable effort into new designs as well as bringing global cuisines to the Indian plate. Apart from these, we are also implementing new CRM systems, which have been designed in-house to better the experience of all customers.
Kindly tell us about your revenue, growth targets and strategies for FY 2022-23.
As of now, our target is to exceed INR 300 cr in net revenues in FY23. Considering the year so far, I believe we are on track to achieve the same.
What new products are there in your pipeline?
For new offerings, we’ve recently opened Noche, a progressive Mexican cuisine-themed restaurant, at One Golden Mile and are on the brink of launching Tickled Pink, which is an aesthetic female-focused restaurant with modern Indian cuisine.