September 05: After a successful pilot run, Pizza Hut, the traditional quick service restaurant (QSR) chain, owned by America's Yum Restaurants is in the process of upgrading itself to a casual dining restaurant in India by adding wine and beer to its menu in Delhi and Bangaluru where it had tied up first with wines from Four Seasons.
With this step, the company will take a distinct lead from the pioneers Barista Café, and Nirula’s who started recently to convert some of its QSRs into casual dining restaurants starting with the Defence Colony restaurant. The biggest coffee chain Café Coffee Day is on record saying they would never add wine and beer in their portfolio with the exception of Mumbai airport. Another new entrant in Delhi, Café L’Otel has announced similar plans but is awaiting license.
The company has just begun serving wine and beer at two Delhi stores and wine at five stores in Bangalore."We will be adding new such stores. The idea is to have this service across all our outlets," the marketing head Sunay Bhasin reportedly said according to a report by PTI.
Pizza Hut currently operates 120 dining restaurants across 34 cities in the country. In addition to the pizza chain, Yum Restaurants operates three other QSR brands in India - KFC, Taco Bell and Long John Silvers. According to Bhasin, the company has plans to expand its presence to Tier-II and Tier-III cities by 2015, taking the number 50% higher, to around 180-200 outlets.
It had reportedly applied for the license in October 2010, which would imply an inordinate delay in getting the license, perhaps due to the anti-greasing stance of the company. During the last few years, the licensing for serving wine and beer at the standalone restaurants has been made very liberal and the prices of such licenses have been reduced to as low as Rs.5000, above the table. However, it could be due to the incomplete application or not fulfilling stringent requirements of law that the delay might have been caused.
It may be too early to predict if wine and beer will be successful concept for such restaurants, after receiving a lukewarm response well at the Barista perhaps due to casual and indifferent attitude by the management but certainly if the idea catches on in the metro cities like Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai, the wine would have a bigger opportunity to find the market.
DelWine had reported when the first store selling wines from FSWL was inaugurated on 8th December, 2010 at the Forum Mall in the presence of Sandeep Kataria, the then Chief Marketing Officer of Yum Restaurants India, he had stressed that the wine being introduced at Pizza Hut was another step towards strengthening the brand’s promise to provide an enhanced dining experience for its customers.