You could watch how your food is cooked
Venkat Raman –
Increasing ferocity of competition in the Indian restaurant industry in New Zealand has led to a price war with a majority of them lowering prices and merging, while a number of others are have taken up the challenge through innovation and increased quality.
Town Grill Restaurant, located at 11/726 Great South Road (within the complex that houses Bank of Baroda branch) is keen to provide that evasive difference in dining.
Restaurant Manager Harpreet Singh Basra is confident that although the concept is new, it has already caught the attention of a growing number of diners.
“Customers say that it is a unique dining experience. We bring a live charcoal grill to the customer’s table and serve freshly grilled Vegetarian and Non-Vegetarian skewers on it to keep the vegetables and meat warm and fresh,” he said.
“Our ‘All you can eat’ concept allows customers unlimited supply of appetisers on the grill (skewers) and off the grill (plates). There is a buffet round to follow round to follow with Indian and Asian fusion curries served with the customers’ choice of Naan breads freshly baked in the tandoor. Finally, we have Desserts to end a good meal on a sweet note,” he said.
“Quality food offered with unlimited supply of appetizers, curries, naans and deserts without compromising quality and high standards of hygiene and safety have made Tower Grill popular since it opened about a year ago,” Harpreet said.
It all began about a year ago, when Harvinder Singh Basra, while surveying the state of the Indian restaurant industry realised that cut-throat competition was driving margins down, creating cash flow and other problems, with the risk of Indian cuisine losing its high value.
“Quality will certainly be the first casualty, followed by other unethical and unhealthy practices (these have already begun to hit the market). Indian cuisine has earned the respect of diners of varied ethnicity not only resident in New Zealand but also visiting tourists. We must preserve and promote high standards of quality,” Harvinder told himself and his colleagues as he decided to establish ‘Tower Grill’ on a location that has fast risen as a destination for quality food.
With 30 years of experience as a businessman in New Zealand, he began to consider the viability in establishing an Indian Restaurant that would stay out of the ordinary.
A meeting with Harpreet, who was in New Zealand to study MBA, encouraged him to proceed with his plan. The young man from Mumbai, with his business acumen, impressed him.
Harvinder was keen to ensure that the new restaurant should follow its own principles of quality and personalised service and not enter the price war that seems to be eating into the profits of Indian restaurants in general.
“Let us remain where we are and move up with our own unique range of dishes, the way we cook and present them to customers and gain their patronage and support. It may take time but it would be worth the wait,” he said.
That stance has worked. Tower Grill witnesses an increasing number of customers enjoying the authentic Indian and other cuisine, and recommending the restaurant to their friends and colleagues. New Zealanders are aware of the exclusivity of Indian food and hence would patronise only those with the ability to offer consistent quality and innovative items to tickle their palate.
Indian hospitality is as unique as its cuisine both of which rely on promotion of time honoured values. These include serving fresh and healthy food free of artificial colours, to suit the preferences of the local population.
“Our ability to offer a range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and ‘Specials’ attract customers not only from the South Auckland region but other parts of Auckland and beyond. Our on-going special ‘Grabone,’ has been considered to be innovative. We have sold more than 500 vouchers in a week. The response has been outstanding. Our Facebook Page ‘TowerGrillManukau brings the latest to people on their mobile phones,” Harpreet said.
Harpreet said that complaints of student exploitation by unscrupulous employers will continue so long as education agents, tertiary institutions, the government and those involved in immigration and employment do not put in checks and controls.
“It also starts with the overseas agents misguiding international students selling them unrealistic dreams. Some employers exploit migrants and students who take up work to make ends meet and repay the loan they might have taken for educational or other purposes. There is a lot of skill set coming from overseas which should be employed where required and fairly treated,” Harpreet said.
He said that the owners of Tower Grill Restaurant focus on providing quality food, great dining experience, encouraging in the process return of the customer.
“Everything works in tandem in this business- the environment, quality of the product, the way it is served, innovation, pricing and most important of all how the staff is treated and engaged with respect and care. Our experience is that one cannot fail if all factors are well in place, especially our poise to be unique and honest,” Harpreet said.