Cocktails, sushis kept Novotel’s delivery buzzing during lockdowns

Vinay Kamath Chennai | Updated on August 17, 2021

Cloud kitchens, deliveries and takeaways are working well for Novotel

The sudden lockdown had hotels scrambling for business but the pre-planning helped Chennai's Novotel.

There’s an array of cartons strewn on the table. The boxes are in all sizes, from large ones to small, compact ones. Supreet Roy picks up one of the small boxes and flips the lid open. Inside, test tubes are neatly arranged with different coloured liquids.

Roy, Novotel Chennai’s general manager, hastens to add that it’s not a chemistry experiment afoot but ready-to-make cocktail concoctions. One can have a choice of either a lavender gimlet or a red fire Mexican Margarita or even a peach-and-mint martini. Or, if one doesn’t want alcohol, the mixes can be turned into refreshing mocktails. The box has four types of concoctions which will make 16 cocktails in all. Drink recipes and serving tips are mentioned inside the box as well.

“The recipes are here, the drinks mixes are here and so are the garnishes; you can add your alcohol, put some ice and shake and it’s ready. Sitting at home you can make your own cocktails and enjoy a good evening with your family,” says Roy.

The cocktail mixes, branded Kooxtails, are an offering from Novotel’s restaurant called Koox and part of Novotel’s Covid-lockdown pivot, were launched in April 2020, to keep its kitchens busy and also cater to its loyal customers cooped up at home. Kooxtails, priced at ₹1,999 a box, averaged sales of four-to-five boxes a day last year and this year, with more in-dining allowed, around two-three boxes a day.

Other launches

Along the way, Novotel also launched more fare such as cloud kitchens: The Degh Story was unveiled a few months ago for Indian cuisine, specifically Lucknowi; Fudged, a range of sugar-free desserts; Tossed, which offers do-it-yourself pastas and pizzas; and Cake Boutique, an exclusive cakes brand. On the anvil too are an Asian kitchen, and a beverage brand of drinks as well.

Roy reaches for another small carton; this is the sushi box, he says. Sushi is an important part of the cuisine at Koox and at its peak was selling 400 portions a month. The lockdown hampered the sushi offering only temporarily as the demand for its delivery went up. Now, the sushi is very delicate and a little shake can unravel it. “We measured the size of the sushi, and the boxes have been designed accordingly. This has been done to ensure that the sushis don’t get damaged during delivery,” explains Roy of the precision involved.

Each box contains eight pieces of sushi, along with soy sauce in a glass bottle, wasabi and gari. “We also provide table mats and chopsticks depending upon the number of people dining,” he adds. Novotel has delivered over 200 boxes of sushi till date.

Roy’s cloud kitchen plans were no up-in-the-clouds plan. Prior to the first lockdown in March 2020, Novotel, part of the Accor group, on Chamiers Road, in the heart of Chennai, was planning to up its food takeaway game. “We wanted to make our food more popular in the city because in a city hotel you can only make your mark with F&B; we were strong in food and I come from an F&B background,” elaborates Roy.

Food deliveries

The sudden lockdown had hotels scrambling for business but the pre-planning helped Novotel.

During the first lockdown, Novotel found a lot of its regular guests calling and asking for food delivery. The hotel does business with many of the consulates in Chennai and a few of the guests were asking for food deliveries as their cooks contacted Covid. “Then a few started asking for ingredients, some asked for recipes and we wondered what to do with such requests. One morning, I saw my daughter doing DIY boxes with paints as part of a game and then I had a brainwave to come up with DIY kits for the hotel. We started with ravioli and pastas as they are popular options,” Roy explains.

The cloud kitchens and deliveries and takeaways are working well for Novotel as Roy says revenue from it has been fairly substantial since it launched during the first lockdown.

With no extra capital expenses for a dark kitchen, the profitability is much higher: In Novotel’s case, at least 7-8 per cent higher for its cloud kitchens over a restaurant kitchen. “There is undoubtedly lesser cost involved in takeaways and delivery due to many aspects such as energy costs, manpower and so on,” adds Roy.

Published on August 16, 2021

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