Customer Spotlight: Bombay Roti
We got together with Gopikrishna Chebrolu, Owner of Bombay Roti to talk about the process of opening up an Indian restaurant in Toronto and how he was able to expand so rapidly in the city.
How did you get started in the restaurant industry?
[Gopikrishna] Back home, my family also owns several restaurants and so I started at a young age. My best friend, who I basically consider family, taught me all of the recipes and different cooking techniques. He was one of the people who got me ramped up and trained in Indian cuisine. Eventually, I moved to Canada as an international student and I studied information technology, but I wanted to continue working in the food space. So, I started working part-time at different roti places in the city and absolutely loved it. It was a nice way to connect with and be reminded of home.
Is this why you decided to open a roti place of your own?
[G] Yes, definitely! At a certain point, I realized that I didn’t want to work for someone else and that I wanted to run my own business. With all of my experience working at roti places and also this type of cuisine being my area of expertise, I decided that I would open up my own roti place. When I opened up Bombay Roti, it was so exciting because I am so passionate about my culture, our cuisine and the work that goes into cooking these dishes; it all came together when I opened my doors. It’s been an amazing experience.
We’ve been open since October, 2018 and we’ve just recently opened up our second location in Toronto!
What is the process of opening up a restaurant like?
[G] It’s not an easy process and a lot of people, myself included, feel like it is before you really get into it. I thought that you’d put money into it and then you’d open up. But every day there are just so many hurdles that get in the way and delay your opening. Finding a location alone is such a time consuming process. I got really lucky when I took over a previous restaurant’s lease because a good landlord was extremely important to me and I definitely got that. We’ve built a solid relationship and I think that it’s something others should consider when picking out a space.
We picked the location because of how busy it is. There is so much traffic on Bloor Street, both foot and vehicle traffic. It’s a lively location because there are universities, colleges and other schools that completely surround us. It’s also a very welcoming neighbourhood. Our location choice has been an awesome business decision and it’s really paying off.
What is the experience that new guests can experience when they visit to your restaurant?
[G] First off, we’ve got a ton of amazing regulars who come in everyday just to say hi and also grab a roti on the go. I think that new guests can expect to be able to build a relationship directly with me, the owner. We’re not a big location, we’ve got a couple seats here, otherwise it’s a very grab-and-go type of place. If you’re looking for delicious Indian food that’s freshly made in-house, then you’re going to have an amazing experience at Bombay Roti.
What is your biggest challenge as a restaurant owner?
[G] There’s just so much competition in Toronto, especially in the Indian and roti cuisine space. How we’re addressing those challenges is to make sure that we continue to be consistent with the food and experiences that we produce for our guests. We want to keep the concept consistent as we open up more and more locations so that when someone walks into a Bombay Roti, regardless of the location, they know that they’re getting the same delicious meal and welcoming environment that they expect.
How are you getting the attention of new and potential guests?
[G] Right now, we’re really focusing on word of mouth. I really believe that if someone comes to our restaurant and has an amazing experience, they’ll tell their friends and family and that will be the best driver of traffic for us. With social media, it’s important but it’s not my number one priority as of yet. I like to talk to my guests and for me I think that’s the most powerful way to spread the word.
We also print out flyers that we keep on hand inside the restaurant and whenever a guest comes in, we make sure to hand them one and encourage them to refer their friends to Bombay Roti. At the end of the day, if the food is great and the service is even better, I think that’s the best way to bring more people in.
For a first-timer, what would be a dish you’d recommend?
[G] Ultimately, it really depends on their taste. But, I tend to recommend our signature dishes, which would be butter chicken and biryani.
As a restaurateur, what would success look like for you?
[G] I think we’ve already reached a major point of success from day one. Within 3 months we secured our second location. It’s been a lot of hard work but I think that it’s been worth it every step of the way. I’m hoping to continue to build out more locations while continuing to provide our guests with the same level of quality and service.
What was the criteria for you when picking a second place?
[G] My first location is a very small place and I was planning to be able to handle all of the delivery orders and other production in my second location. So kitchen space with the biggest goal for me. Available spaces that ended up meeting that criteria dictated where I was going to open up next. Also, I wanted a little bit more space in the front-of-house as well. Not a crazy sit-down area, but somewhere between 10-15 seats.
What are you most proud of when looking back on this experience?
[G] It’s been really hard being so far away from my family, but I’m extremely happy and proud of the outcome of all my hard work. I’ve been working on this for about 5-6 years now and being able to call my parents and tell them about what I’ve created is really special. I’m so proud.
What makes Bombay Roti unique compared to its competitors?
[G] All of our recipes come straight from India. It’s an authentic Indian experience. I’ve worked at so many Indian restaurants in Toronto and some chefs will use frozen food. However, for my own place, I only use fresh ingredients. I want to give my guests the same level of quality that I would like for myself and I think that sets us apart from other place in the city.
Why did you choose to work with ChefHero?
[G] When I worked at other roti restaurants, like Indian Roti House, we used to order everything through ChefHero. So, I had already experienced the platform for about 1-2 years. When I opened up my own place, it was one of the easier decisions I had to make so I called ChefHero up right away. Throughout my experience at both Bombay Roti and other restaurants, it’s been a very consistent experience; I get my orders on time, there’s no obligation and the prices are great too. The suppliers on the platform are top notch when it comes to quality.
When comparing ChefHero to other suppliers that have approached me, I’m saving almost $700-800 per week. I also save a lot of time through ChefHero because I just place an order and I trust they’ll do the rest. I don’t have to worry about anything. I’ve built an awesome relationship with ChefHero and that’s made the entire experience that much better.