Running a food business is the dream for many, and there are different avenues you can take – whether running a food stall, a café, or focussing your efforts on a takeaway restaurant. That’s what Deepak Christopher of Chilli Tuk Tuk is doing. He looked at the takeaway market in London and saw that, while it was saturated, nobody in his area was doing really high-quality Indian takeaway food – so he decided to address this. Here are his tips on how run a takeaway.
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I am the founder of Chilli Tuk Tuk Indian takeout, and we make food that delivers! We're an Indian food takeaway and delivery service based in North Finchley. We entered a market that is saturated and very competitive, but believe we found a gap in this market. There are so many Indian takeaways in London, but we found the food from all of them to taste the same. Some are okay, some are good, but we found ourselves wondering why people settle for 'ok' when they can have real, quality and tasty Indian food.
Our preparation process and our operation process are geared up to produce high quality food consistently, and we do this because our processes are unconventional. We don't have hundreds of dishes - we have a small, tailored menu, so that each dish tastes unique.
The dishes we do are familiar to our customers, but we traced the origins of these dishes and travelled to India to meet local chefs who helped build our menu.
How we started up
We spent a lot of time really working on our product. We underwent many trials and tests before we felt we had a product that we felt would plug the gap we identified in the market.
It was important to ensure we had the right amount of finance in place, and to understand what we realistically needed, along with a contingency plan, so we could cover our losses until the business started to pick up. We believe in our product and didn't want to see the wrong calculations force us out of the market.
It was also important to us that we picked the right team for the start. Especially as a startup, we knew the people involved from day one would have a massive hand in ensuring success or failure for us.
We intentionally looked for a premises that had the relevant licences in place. Applying for the right licence on a property that doesn't have one can be a long process, so this became a determining factor. The food hygiene training was a must for all of us in the kitchen - apart from being mandatory it is actually a really useful course.
Where we are now
Has it worked? Well, we are the top-rated Indian takeaway in our delivery area (on Just Eat and Hungry House) based on over 700 customer reviews. We have built a strong repeat client base who come to us to enjoy the flavours they have come to love. Importantly our whole operation is based on scalability, and as we look to grow we know we can deliver the same taste, the same flavour and the same great customer experience as we expand. We have been operational for 15 months and our partnership with Virgin StartUp has been invaluable. Our mentor has really helped us nail our processes, and he continues to support our growth.
Tips for other takeaways
- It’s so easy to get lost in the day-to-day operation and lose sight of the bigger picture. Sometimes its not about finding the perfect solution, but finding a solution to a problem and being bold in implementing it. Mistakes are a great learning tool if we learn from them.
- Your business or solution should fix a gap. It’s not always about what we think that makes a great product - there needs to be a demand for that product. Also, agility is so important and as a startup whether we know it or not we have that advantage, so use it.
- When making changes we always refer back to our core principles and mission; whatever we do must always align back with that.