Being credited for building an alliance with the globally renowned Shangri-La Hotel for the biggest room inventory (397 rooms) in Bengaluru, as the director at Adarsh Developers – Nischay Jayeshankar, co-founder, Spago Foods, recently brought New York’s iconic dessert brand ‘Magnolia Bakery’ in India. In conversation with Express Food & Hospitality, Jayeshankar shares about the challenges and opportunities faced while operating the bakery amid these unprecedented times
From bringing Bengaluru’s largest room-inventory hotel to introducing the first Magnolia Bakery in the city, what inspired you to pursue a career in the hospitality industry?
The hospitality industry has given me the opportunity to hone multiple different skill sets. No two days are alike and we are forced to improvise constantly and adapt to changing environments. I have always been very passionate about food and often sought after working with high-quality ingredients from around the world. Once I felt the satisfaction I got from serving delicious food and providing high-quality customer service, I was hooked.
What challenges and opportunities did you face including quality control, sourcing ingredients, meeting international standards, etc., while opening India’s first Magnolia Bakery?
Magnolia Bakery has set standards for each ingredient we use and our goal was to source as much locally as possible to match these standards. With the help of Magnolia Bakery’s corporate chef from the US, we were able to identify a good mix of local and imported ingredients. The next big task was to build a team of talented pastry chefs and to train them according to Magnolia Bakery standards.
While the hospitality industry is adversely impacted at large, how at Spago Foods did you optimise costs throughout the pandemic-induced lockdown?
From the start of Spago foods, we were very clear that we did not want to ever compromise on the quality of the ingredients we use, so the way we decided to optimise costs was by reducing our SKUs/ the number of products we have on offer at the bakery. We typically have about 40 products on display at any given time, we reduced that by about 30 per cent and stuck to just our best sellers. We also faced some supply chain issues for certain ingredients and ended up pulling those products out too. We used this opportunity to renegotiate with a lot of our vendors. Our chefs were also very stringent regarding wastage of products; we made sure to bake in small batches multiple times throughout the day based on the demand from customers.
How are you keeping the Magnolia Bakery experience intact with the patrons at the comfort of their homes?
This has proven to be quite challenging for us. Our customers love to come into the bakery, take in the aroma of freshly baked desserts, see everything we have on display and then make their purchases. Customers also love to chat with our staff about new launches and their recommendations. Currently, we are heavily dependent on social media to showcase all our products and new launches and keep our customers engaged.
What is the future roadmap for Spago Foods? (Are you looking at single-brand franchise expansion or multiple; bullish about brick & mortar stores or exploring online channels, etc?
Currently, our goal is to bring Magnolia Bakery across the country. We get a lot of requests online to bring this brand to other cities. Given that we are currently in a pandemic, we have had to rework our expansion plans. We are still bullish about brick and mortar stores – online channels can only supplement our sales but cannot replace our physical presence completely.