A buffet’s success story

Posted on In Focus May 2012 - by Tandoori Magazine
A buffet’s success story

Husband and wife team Parmjit and Helen Dhaliwal are owners of the Red Hot World Buffet chain. They talk to Tandoori about what’s made their business so successful

What made you set up a buffet business concept as opposed to a restaurant with an à la carte menu?

We spotted the growing trend for Chinese buffets, which were getting increasingly popular at a time when customers were demanding more value for their money. We also knew that there was strong demand for Indian restaurants in Britain, but these types of cuisine were often aimed at the low to mid-end market. We decided to polish this image and create a greater distinction between the middle to top end of the market by making it upmarket. We improved the design, quality and freshness of buffet food so that it met à la carte standards.

Red Hot World Buffet currently has seven restaurant sites with plans to expand to 25 within the next three years. What makes you so confident about the business, particularly in such harsh economic times?

The fact is, as the economy gets tougher people have less disposable income and become very cautious about where their money is spent. If Red Hot offers the best value for money in a particular town or city – without sacrificing quality – we believe we will get a big market share of those customers who still want to dine out in style.

Your buffet offers Indian, Italian, Chinese, Thai, Mexican and Japanese cuisines. How do you manage to be consistent?

We’re fortunate that Red Hot attracts some of the very best chefs who have been expertly trained in high-quality catering establishments all around the world. All our dishes are cooked freshly on site by the team, who specialise in preparing a vast array of global cuisines.

What is the secret of a good buffet business

In the case of Red Hot, we know for certain that the secret lies within a combination of two essential elements: the right product coupled with the right people, both of which complement each other and have led to the brand’s overall success. We have invested in our people from day one, and they have been instrumental in making the business what it is today.

What was the initial investment you made to launch the business in 2004?

 

We spent a total of £400,000 setting up the original Nottingham restaurant in 2004. £150,000 of this was our own capital and we borrowed the remaining funds from the bank, as well as using a leasing company and extending credit.

What is the cost per head of dining at the Red Hot World Buffet?

The price varies according to the day, time and restaurant. This is because our menu changes in each establishment and we extend the number of dishes in the evening. In our original Nottingham branch, lunch Monday to Saturday costs £6.95 and is £7.95 on Sunday, while dinner ranges from £10.95 to £12.95. Children under 10 can dine for half price in all Red Hot restaurants.

How many staff does Red Hot World Buffet employ?

720.

What has been the one key business decision you have taken in launching your business?

Our decision to empower the team and to constantly over-deliver on fantastic value for money.

As joint owners of the business and husband and wife, how do you divide your roles?

We made the decision to split our duties between front and back of house. Helen looks after the front end and works with the team there, She also deals with the day-to-day running of the business, which includes heading up the four key members of the operations team, as well as the financial side. Parmjit leads all the back-end work, which involves business planning and other behind-the-scenes jobs, such as growing the company as a whole. 

What does the future hold for Red Hot World Buffet?

Our dream is to make Red Hot a household brand, where it stands for the highest quality and delivers the best value for money.

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