Companies

Dindigul Thalapakatti spicing up with changing times

Swathi Moorthy Chennai | Updated on January 09, 2018

The 60-year-old biriyani chain started as a small outlet in Dindigul in Tamil Nadu   -  R Ravindran

Biriyani chain plans to expand to Bengaluru, Kerala

A strong aroma of cardamom and cloves wafts through the air as one enters the central kitchen of biriyani chain Dindigul Thalapakatti, in Chennai. “Sometimes working here while fasting is a challenge,” quips Deepika Nagasamy, Director of the chain.

The 60-year-old restaurant chain, which started as a small outlet in Dindigul in Tamil Nadu, now has 38 branches in the State and one each the US, Paris, Malaysia and Dubai, since 2009.

Nagasamy Dhanabalan, Managing Director, says that a unique recipe, special home-made spices and consistency helped them maintain the brand name through the years, and played a huge role in its success. It is this uniqueness that favoured them in the recent legal battle against other biriyani outlets sporting similar-sounding names, he claims.

“We easily adapt to changing times,” said Dhanabalan. The chain has a strong presence in social media networks such as Instagram to engage younger audience.



Expansion



“After the success in Tamil Nadu, I feel we are finally ready to branch out and enter the South India market,” he said. The company is keen on expanding to Bengaluru and Kerala in the next few months.

The first outlet in Bengaluru will be launched in three months.. A central kitchen that can cater to 11 restaurants is already in the works. Since it is a newer market, the company will be testing the water with the Quick Service Restaurant model in IT hubs and areas that will be receptive to the brand.

The firm operates in two models — casual dining and QSR. Dhanabalan says while casual dining is popular in Chennai, QSR is the best way to study newer markets.

“Bengaluru being an IT hub makes it an ideal place to study consumer preference using QSR. We will still have a few casual-dining restaurants in prominent locations as it helps us in establishing the brand.”

After Bengaluru, the next target is Kerala, where the company plans to open outlets in Kochi and Kozhikode. “I want to open 50 restaurants in Tamil Nadu in the next three years, focussing on smaller towns such as Tirunelveli.

“For overseas expansion, we will focus on places where there is a significant Tamil population, such as Sri Lanka, London, Singapore or Australia. As of now, nothing has been finalised.”

The biriyani chain invests ₹1.5-2 crore in a casual dining outlet, which takes about 18 months to break-even. In case of QSR, the investment is ₹45-80 lakh depending on the area. Dhanabalan said the company is in talks with investors for expansion plans, which will be finalised next year.

The firm registered a revenue of ₹214 crore last fiscal, and sells about 500-600 plates per day per restaurant in India. It sells close to 5,000 plates per day internationally across the four branches.



Online delivery



The company is also focussing on upping its online delivery share. Currently, close to 25 per cent of sales comefrom online platforms. Players such as Zomato and Swiggy account for about 15 per cent and the firm’s own delivery platform accounts for the rest. “I want to increase the online share from our website,” Dhanabalan said. To improve the online sales, the company is working on a mobile app, which will be launched shortly..

Published on December 14, 2017

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