Ishan Grover started India’s first International Microbrewery in Gurugram, Lemp Brewpub and kitchen which was the franchise of LEMP Brewing Company in St. Louis USA. Lemp was the first company to produce Lager beer in the USA. Currently, Ishan manages a vast portfolio of clients, including the Manhattan Group that operates 6 brewpubs in Gurugram.
In an interaction with The Restaurant Times, POSist, Ishan shares his insights about the microbrewery business, and the recent trends to have hit the Indian F&B market. Edited excerpts…
POSist: What are the upcoming food trends in the restaurant business?
Ishan: Let's talk particularly about micro-brewing. This new culture of having beer has really caught upon the new generation. We have recently introduced summer flavours like Mango and Green Apple and are currently experimenting and trying to bring new international flavours as well. These international flavours have a lot of character in them.
POSist: Based on market sentiment, what kind of restaurant format would be successful in the coming years?
Ishan: If basics are right, any kind of restaurant format can work. Restaurant owners should focus on the basics and things which would be sustainable over a long period, rather than on new things for a short span of time. In other words, it is the consistency and longevity that matters for the restaurant business. Some restaurant try to go the extra mile by doing new things but they fail in the long term. So any entrepreneur who is into the restaurant business or would venture into the business should focus on basics first.
POSist: Since you have been associated with restaurant owners from the beginning, what kind advice would you give to your clients in terms of setting up a brewery or bar and its ambience and furniture, etc?
Ishan: I’d advise them to go for a rustic and urban feeling. If anybody plans to set-up a brewery they should make the place with a comfortable setting with a feeling of warmth; it cannot go into a club mode. It has to be a pub which gives you comfort, and where people can come and relax. Also, I would recommend them to have good quality furniture which should comfortable rather going for tacky furniture. In terms of the ambience, they should not spend a bomb but go for the unconventional thing.
POSist: Do you think this brewery culture will grow further? How do you see it spreading?
Ishan: Many other states are following Gurugram, and issuing licences. Recently, breweries in Hyderabad and Kolkatta have opened. In Delhi, we are still waiting. Yes, beer culture is catching up and it also helps in increasing excise revenues for the state, and also promotes low-alcohol based liquor. This trend is reaching to the tier-I and tier-II cities like Chandigarh and Dehradun as well. People are realising the micro-brewery can be a USP for a state.
POSist: What all the areas you are planning to expand further?
Ishan: In India, we are doing various projects in different cities like Bangalore, Pune, Mumbai, and Kolkata. We are yet to finalise our project in Hyderabad. The projects in Mumbai and Pune are one of the biggest projects for us. They will have biggest microbreweries in the country, brewing 50,000 litres of beer per month.
POSist: How much capital investment is required to open a micro-brewery? How do you support them?
Ishan: If just talk about the brewery, the cost comes up from Rs 50 lakh to Rs 1 Cr. The staff has to have the brewing knowledge. We train the staff and we monitor the whole plant. WE give SOPs to make the beer according to the international standards. We also give them a set of standards which the restaurant has to follow. For all of this, we charge a one-time cost.
POSist: For brewery format, what are the points should be kept in mind when finalising the location?
Ishan: Regardless of any format, location is the most important factor which can turn the restaurant business into a success. The restaurant business should be at a high-footfall place. While choosing a location for the brewery, it's not just location but the size of the restaurant that also matters. If you open a small restaurant of 4000-6000 SqFt it will not give you returns. So, to have a brewery one should open a restaurant in a space of at least 10,000 sqft. Then only it will be financially feasible.
POSist: What kind of licenses is required to set-up a brewery?
Ishan: The outlet should have the liquor license, food license, and fire license. Once the outlet has all the licenses in one place, then you need to apply for the special brewery licenses which cost around Rs 2.5 lakhs to Rs 6 lakhs, depending upon the State.