Teattoria, located on the main promenade in the hill station of Darjeeling, has recently added a non-vegetarian section to its initially purely vegetarian menu. ET HospitalityWorld spoke with Madhav Sarda, the managing director of Golden Tips Tea, which owns and operates the outlet.
Located right next to the Golden Tips tea shop, Chowrasta, Teattoria offers a wide variety of fare including Continental, Oriental and Japanese fare, as well as a wide variety of gourmet teas and exotic mocktails.
“Teattoria was probably the only purely vegetarian restaurant in Darjeeling, but there was a constant demand from a large proportion of visitors for non-vegetarian dishes. Since the majority of visitors to Darjeeling are from Bengal and their preference for fish and chicken is well known, it also made business sense to include non-vegetarian options on our menu,” said Sarda, who is also an expert in tea tasting.
In fact, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, during one of his visits to Darjeeling, suggested that the restaurant add non-vegetarian food to our menu, he added.
“Since the cafe’s inception last year, response has been lukewarm given the prime location, quaint and enchanting ambience – hence the recent diversification into non-vegetarian,” Sarda said.
“However, attendance has been very good during festive occasions and summer holidays (April/May/June) such as Durga Puja, Christmas and New Year, when Darjeeling witnesses a large influx of tourists. This attracts more vegetarians and others who are willing to settle for vegetarian dishes in the absence of adequate catering facilities during the massive tourist rush,” he added.
Café culture was an integral part of life in Darjeeling, but there was also a niche clientele for high-end restaurants like Teattoria, Sarda said. While cafes were favored as a more informal and cheaper alternative to high-end restaurants, particularly among millennials, higher-income visitors and families preferred to spend more at high-end restaurants.
“The successful operation of a high-end restaurant is very demanding in terms of staff, management and operations, all of which offer multiple challenges. However, good food, customer-friendly hours that allow visitors access to food and drink until late hours, and exemplary and warm service are prerequisites for restaurants to have a steady flow of customers and become sustainable in places like Darjeeling,” he said.
The restaurant scene in Darjeeling was quite promising. There were a lot of customers due to the constant flow of tourists, resulting in good footfall and business. Besides visitors, Darjeeling residents from a cross section of society were an integral part of the city’s F&B culture, Sarda concluded.