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Nirula’s has a Whopper Wine Idea

Posted: Saturday, 02 July 2011 13:32

Nirula’s has a Whopper Wine Idea

July 02: After perhaps getting inspiration from the American fast food, casual dining and coffee chains like Starbucks, Sonic, Burger King and Pizza Hut in the US which sparked an interest in Barista and Pizza Hut in India, Nirula’s announced a whopper of an idea of revamping some stores and selling beer and wine to increase their revenues, but they would need to manage it properly, writes Subhash Arora

There was a lot of  hullabaloo when Barista, the coffee chain owned by Lavazza announced adding wine and beer to their café menu in the Defence Colony upscale outlet almost a year and a half ago. What seemed like an experiment, did not succeed, not necessarily because the idea was not sound but perhaps because it was slightly ahead of its time and the management did not seem focused on the proper execution of its plans. That did not deter them from stepping into another high-income group area, Khan market. Monitoring closely, one knew it was heading for a failure from the very beginning. It is nice to see the Khan Market store at least giving it a shot.

Then came the Pizza Hut in Bangalore adding Four Seasons wines into its Menu at a few select restaurants a few months ago, while Sula was the supplier in Delhi. Being in the backyard of UB’s Vijay Mallya and seemingly with a close monitoring of Abhay Kewadkar, head of the business division at UB and their chief winemaker, it is natural that it will get active support and if the two decide on making it successful, it should be a successful model for other similar chains to emulate.

Therefore, it was not a surprise when it was reported in Economic Times that Nirula’s, Delhi’s original fast food joint with the American concept initiated by Lalit Nirula while at Cornell University, now in the hands of Samir Kuckreja and expanding towards a national presence, announced on Thursday that the expansion plans would include selling wine and beer at some of their casual dining restaurants.

"Nirula's has been a strong name in the quick service segment with a customer spending up to Rs 250 on an average at our restaurants. With the new concept, we are targeting customers who spend around Rs 1,000 per head in a casual dining environment," Nirula's CEO and MD Samir Kuckreja is reported to have told PTI.

The concept, although common in Europe where fast foods, casual dining and casual cafés are almost as recent a phenomenon as in India, have been tried out with partial success  in the US with Starbucks leading the way. Four Starbucks coffee shops in the Seattle area are now selling wine and beer and another one will start selling in September.

In a bid to boost business, two ‘Sonic’ restaurants in South Florida will also start selling beer and wine. The move follows Burger King Whopper Bars recently opened in Miami, Las Vegas and Kansas City that sell beer and will hopefully add wine ****MR.ARORA TO CONFIRM**** to the Menu. Pizza hut has been selling beer and wine at select locations for several years.

USA which may be considered only 30-40 years ahead of India as a country with an evolved wine culture still has significant number of people who oppose such a move. They fear that the fast food and fast beer or wine culture will make youngsters drink too much too fast. Beer or wine sold at fast-food outlets might give young folks the wrong message, says Christopher Muller, dean at Boston University's School of Hospitality Administration, according to a report in USA Today yesterday. "You don't want someone downing a quick beer, then getting into their cars and driving off. It's a delicate balance of risk and reward."

In India, the resistance may be much stiffer. Coupled with the fact that the age for serving wine or beer is 25 years in Delhi (21 years in Mumbai- the recent policy may take it higher to 25 years for wine), it is a concept that needs ‘selling’ and may not turn out to be a fast money making idea.

Many fast food joints and Cafes may have reservation in principle or may feel it does not make business sense to serve beer and wine for such clients. India;s Coffee Cafe Day is one such example with no plans to add them to its Menu. ‘We would like to further clarify that Café Coffee Day is a coffee café and does not have any plans to serve wine,’ wrote Rapunzel D'mello, Senior Account Manager, Madison Public Relations from Mumbai to DelWine when it had published an article about wine at coffee shops and suggested that the biggest coffee chain was serving wine at the Mumbai airport Café Coffee Day and would consider expanding in the area. He had clarified  that the ‘outlet at the Mumbai airport, which is a round the clock café and serving wine is requirement of the for this café only.’

Whereas one major reason of a big dent in the bottom line in Delhi might be because Barista serves coffee liqueurs which require a much higher license fee, the recent changes in Mumbai followed by Karnataka, Haryana (where taverns are popular) and Delhi allowing licenses for serving beer and wines for as low as Rs.5000 might encourage a bigger army of restaurants to come and face the opposition till they score the much cherished victory and encourage others like Nirula’s and Pizza Hut to enter the arena.

Subhash Arora

For earlier article visit



Letitia Says:

Knocked my socks off with knowdlege!

Posted @ August 01, 2011 11:17


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