Gone are the days when the only takeaway after a meal at a restaurant is a parcel of the leftovers. Many popular restaurants in the city are now getting customers interested in quirky merchandise, the practice once initiated by marquee chains like Cafe Coffee Day and Barista selling branded mugs on a small-scale. Consumers, on the other hand, are lapping them up too, Rahul Khanna, director of Azure Hospitality and promoter of Mamagoto, the Asian cuisine restaurant that is eight months old in Benglauru, is actively involved in merchandising, and sells mugs, t-shirts, cushion covers and even artworks inspired by his restaurant’s decor themes.
“The food that we sell is a perishable product. But quirky, fun and easy-to-use merchandise are ways to remain in the minds of people for long,” he told ET. “Mugs sell the most, followed by tshirts. People also write to us for customised artwork and canvasses that they see on display at the restaurant.”
Given the increasing consumer interest, Khanna is now planning to take merchandising to the next level.”By the end of this year, we will not only introduce new products like iPad and mobile phone covers, but will also launch our own mer chandise e-portal.”
Merchandise lovers in the city are aplenty, most of them young professionals with a penchant for memorabilia.
33-year-old multimedia developer Vamsi Krishna is one of them. “I am crazy about merchandise and like to pick up small products, usually mugs or shot glasses, from places I visit,” he said. “I would buy merchandise from restaurants because it helps me take back a collectible that reminds of a particular place.” Chef Manu Chandra, executive chef and partner at the popular Monkey Bar gastropub, is another leading restaurateur who is soon to step into merchandising.
USB sticks, bands, shot glasses, mugs and t-shirts are some of the products he plans to offer. “Loyalists usually pick up stuff from the restaurant. Since most of this is impulsive buying, they are drawn towards products that are cool, lighthearted and fun,” he told ET. “Good-quality, quirky products with a touch of branding would be nice keepers.”
Avinash Byanna, promoter of The Lost Caravan, a one week old, travel-themed resto-bar on Church Street, started off with merchandises as a part of his service design and identity. “I bought 400 custom-made hip flasks just to see whether or not people would show preference to it and the response has been phe nomenal. Barely a week down the line, I just have 75 pieces left,” he said, adding that while he has started off with one product (that is open to customisation as per people’s request),he would soon plan to include more products in the list. He added that branded merchandise is a win-win situation for both the customer and the restaurant. “While customers can take back something tangible after the meal, it helps us build our brand and create a recall value in the minds of people.”