How to start a fast food restaurant in India

A quick service restaurant, more popularly known as a fast food restaurant, is focused on (as the name suggests) extremely fast, quick and efficient service of food that is prepared in large quantities. The food is pre-cooked, way before the customer’s order, which reduces the waiting time between ordering the food and actually receiving it. There is minimal, and in some cases, no table service. All these factors make it an easy go-to choice for busy commuters who do not have a lot of time on their hands. Fast food is extremely affordable, most often can be quickly eaten, and are easily accessible. These simple characteristics are a key factor in understanding why the global fast food market is estimated to reach $931 billion by 2027.

Such quick-service, “fast food” providing restaurants are called “Quick Service Restaurants” or QSRs. Major players in this field are McDonalds and KFC. QSRs have limited menus, extremely quick service and offer takeout and drive-through options. It is important to understand the distinction between “fast casual” restaurants and quick service restaurants. “Fast casual” restaurants, on the other hand, are a combination and mixture of fast food restaurants and casual dining restaurants. The food here is perceived to be healthier and the prices are higher as compared to QSRs. The time taken to serve the food is also higher when compared to fast food restaurants.

The case for fast food restaurants in India

Fast food restaurants' market in India is projected to grow at a CAGR of more than 18% during 2021-2025. Major fast food restaurant chains such as McDonald’s, KFC, Burger King, Starbucks are recognized in large levels. An interesting point to note is the popularity of fast food restaurants in India amongst the highly urbanized youth. For them, the act of going to fast food restaurants is more of a social activity rather than one driven by tastebuds. The ease of ordering, the cheap cost of fast food and American coffee-shop like aura of fast food restaurants are what draw the youth to it.  

Locally grown fast food restaurant chains in India have also become nationally recognized. Café Coffee Day, which enjoys fame throughout the country, has also expanded to countries such as Austria, Egypt and Nepal. Recently, Wow! Momo, a famous Indian fast food restaurant chain, raised $6.1 million in debt funding.

Burger Singh, a locally grown Indian burger fast food restaurant chain, has opened up great franchise opportunities, offering good prices for the start of a fast food cloud kitchen in its name. Burger Singh’s model is completely based on ordering, as it is focusing on the concept of a cloud kitchen as opposed to regular, physical restaurants, which makes it pandemic-proof.

The pandemic’s effect on fast food restaurant’s growth

Though quick service restaurants all in all have taken a hit due to the pandemic, the drive-through, digital ordering through food aggregators or through the chain’s own services and takeaway options of fast food restaurants have seen great growth in the times of COVID-19. Due to health and safety concerns, many people do not wish to sit inside big restaurants and would much rather prefer the three methods listed above. McDonald's takeaway business in India has doubled, when the fast food restaurant chain's current statistics are compared to those in pre-pandemic times. These factors, when combined with the fact that fast food restaurants are based on extremely quick service, make for an optimal, efficient and most importantly safe experience of ordering food during the pandemic. This opens up room to understand how to start a fast food restaurant.

Now that you have understood what a quick service restaurant is, how to start a quick service restaurant in India? With all this information in mind, here’s exactly what you have to do and know and keep in mind.

How to start a fast food restaurant / how to start a quick service restaurant in India:

1) Formulate a business plan and food menu
Before you start a fast food restaurant in India, a clear plan regarding how the business is to be approached and how the brand identity is to be formed is important once the fast food restaurant market in India is studied. It is the most important thing when one is figuring out how to start a fast food restaurant. One needs to do a study to understand the competition and evaluate the investment they are ready to put into their fast food business – is it going to be a café with a low budget in Mumbai, takeaway business in Delhi, or something entirely different? Will it be a cloud kitchen or a physical space? Will the customer charge be affordable and minimal? What are you going to name the brand? What will be your main fast food product? Will you serve both vegetarian and non-vegetarian food, or is it going to be purely vegetarian? Who are your target customers? The possibilities here are truly endless.

2) Decide the location

The locality of a fast food restaurant in India is incredibly important, as it is a vital factor in drawing customers. Setting up a fast food restaurant where a great number of visitors are projected to come is an extremely useful advantage. For example, fast food restaurants operating from the ground floor in Connaught Place in New Delhi would be extremely visible and attract a good amount of customers, due to the prime location and a great amount of visibility made possible through it. It is one of the primal factors in figuring out how to start a quick service restaurant.

3) Obtain the required legal licenses
Before opening up the chain, it is recommended to have all of the licenses in place in order to avoid any future problems. Namely, one needs certain important licenses and registrations such as a food license from the FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India), a liquor license (in case it is being sold), Shops and Establishment Registration, Income Tax registration, a no-objection certificate from the Fire Department and more.

4) Raw material and kitchen appliances

Once you’ve rented/bought a space in the chosen location and obtained the licenses, one now needs to secure the raw material and kitchen appliances required to set up the business. Chairs and tables are the most basic requirements, alongside good kitchen-related essentials like gas pipelines and appliances such as grillers, ovens, tandoors and cutlery.

5) Hiring the staff
When the material is dealt with, it’s time to move on to those that will make magic out of the material. One of the most crucial elements in setting up a fast food restaurant business in India is the need to hire the staff for the fast food restaurant. In many ways, they are the most important part of the business, as they deal directly with the customers and also prepare the products being provided to the customer – the various fast food dishes. These two things are extremely important in the fast food restaurant business, as these are what influence a customer’s experience of the outlet as a whole.

It is recommended to design a uniform for them as it further makes the brand image more official and recognizable.

Waiters, cleaners, chefs, managers, accountants and more – these people are who are going to run your business and decide what becomes of it as they are the ones providing most of the service. It is extremely important to hire people that are responsible, alert, socially aware, skilled and concerned about costumer satisfaction.

However, as a business owner, one must also look after their needs. Proper facilities, hygiene practices and regular breaks coupled with incentives must be implemented in the model to make sure that the staff is satisfied.

6) Set up delivery and telephone services

Delivery systems should be set up, either through third party food-aggregators or one that is specifically designed for the business itself, i.e an independent service. One can also get a cloud communication telephone service.

It is also important to note, that keeping in mind the effects of the pandemic, take-away locations and drive-through locations and facilities must also be implemented as these would be the most well performing alongside food delivery.

With this, you’re all set! Now that you’ve figured out how to start a fast food restaurant, all that’s left after these steps is  for you to open the newest fast food restaurant business in India, and begin a new journey of life.

As food trends change and as the fast food restaurant service in India grows exponentially, it is a good decision for any enthusiast to hop on the train and start a fast food restaurant business in India. The growth is great, and so is the taste.

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