Studying Restaurant Management to Better Scale A Food Business
Sameer Bhatt enrolled in ICE’s Restaurant & Culinary Management program to grow his cafe and food-delivery brand in India.
Sameer first lived in New York City for a summer internship while earning his bachelor’s in business administration in Mumbai. When he returned to India, he started working for a food ordering platform called Zomato, helping more than 100 restaurants in Delhi grow their presence on the site. Meanwhile, Sameer and his brother began a late-night food delivery service from their family home.
“We don’t get good quality food late at night,” Sameer explained of New Delhi. “So my brother and I started something from our house where people can actually get a good burger when they get back home after a night out.”
In the beginning, one employee cooked while Sameer and his brother delivered the food, which was derived from their mother’s recipes. When orders increased, the pair opened a daytime cafe with late-night delivery kitchens. Today, one eatery — Hungry Ullu — serves comfort food like burgers, pizza, pasta and shakes, and the other — Hungry Chow — is a 20-seat Chinese cafe. Once the business grew to a team of 35 employees and more than 150 orders a day, Sameer returned to New York to pursue a Restaurant & Culinary Management diploma at the Institute of Culinary Education.
“I like the food business, and I want to understand this industry,” he said. “I want to understand how I can standardize a menu and grow a small-scale business into a big restaurant business. If I want to grow my entire business, I need to grow first.”
After two months of classes, Sameer said he learned about menu engineering and pricing.
“While I’m learning, I’m wondering, why did I not do this when I was opening my cafes?” he said, adding that he calls his brother to share advice. “To standardize across different cities, you have to have a limited menu. I just want to have 20 outstanding dishes that people come for. If I plan it well, that’s what’s going to help us scale.”
After six years of late-night delivery, Hungry Ullu’s most popular dishes seem to have a running theme: butter chicken pizza, a butter garlic momo (the word for “dim sum” in Nepal, which borders India), and a chicken makni wrap — with a buttery sauce.
“The best thing that happened in New York was meeting someone at a party who loves our momos,” Sameer shared. “It’s very popular in Delhi.”
Hungry Chow has a popular Thai chili basil with fried rice and meals in a bowl, which inspired Sameer’s first class presentation.
“I want to present Indian flavors, but I want to make it more affordable and more easily accessible, like an on-the-go, quick casual Indian bowl place,” he said. “New York is a city where everyone wants their food fast.”
But before moving forward with his own concept, Sameer wants experience with a big brand. “I want to work here for a year because New York has so many types of restaurants, and the culinary experts are here,” he said. “I really want to use that to my advantage and go back to India as a more complete professional.”
Explore growing your food business in ICE’s Restaurant & Culinary Management program.