Burger King, globally the second-largest burger chain, has announced the opening of its first restaurant in the City of Joy, Kolkata, on August 30. With this launch, the brand strengthens its presence in East India and is now present across all the metro cities in India, reinforcing its strong commitment to growth in the Indian market. Team Optimist spoke to Rajeev Varman, CEO, Burger King India, on his plans regarding the company.
Team Optimist: Tell us about the Burger King brand…
Rajeev Varman: Founded in 1954, the Burger King® brand is the second-largest burger chain in the world — the original home of The Whopper®, the Burger King system. As on December 31, 2018, we have been operating in over 17,796 locations in approximately 100 countries and US territories. Almost 100 per cent of the Burger King® restaurants are owned and operated by independent franchisees, many of them family-owned operations that have been in business for decades. Incidentally, the Burger King® brand is owned by Restaurant Brands International Inc., one of the world’s largest ‘quick service’ restaurant companies. With over 25,744 restaurants, Burger King has become a global brand in the true sense of the term.
Team Optimist: How has the brand’s journey been in India?
Rajeev Varman: Burger King India Pvt. Ltd is the master franchisee for Burger King® in India, operating Burger King® restaurants nationwide. Burger King India opened its first restaurant in India in 2014 and operates more than 200 restaurants across India in cities, such as Delhi-NCR, Punjab, Rajasthan, Mumbai, Nashik, Pune, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bhopal, Gwalior, Bhubaneswar and other states like Kerala, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh.
Kolkata is the 50th city in India in which Burger King is opening its outlet. The brand embarked on its journey in India with the opening of its first restaurant in November 2014 at Select CityWalk Mall in South Delhi.
Ever since its launch in India, the brand has had a strong presence in metros and Tier 1 cities and has also ventured into Tier II cities. The brand achieved the 200th restaurant milestone in a short time span of five years and that, too, at Quest Mall in Kolkata.
Team Optimist: How was the experience of coming to eastern India, expectations and homecoming?
Rajeev Varman: We’ve had an incredible journey in India and are happy to launch our operations in Kolkata. Interestingly, I was born in Howrah and I’m deeply connected with the city. We understand that people in Kolkata take immense pride in their food and we’re very excited to offer Burger King’s signature burgers through our first restaurant here. This city has always been on our radar and we’re confident that Burger King India, with its world-class quality, service and experience, will be welcome here.
Team Optimist: What are the products launched in Kolkata?
Rajeev Varman: There’s no denying the fact that Burger King is renowned worldwide for its Whopper, which provides a unique flame-grilled patty experience. For Kolkata, the brand has exclusively launched two special Whopper innovations (besides the Classic Whopper) on its menu — the Double Whopper and The Smokin’ Crunch Whopper (available in chicken, veg and mutton variants). Besides the Whopper, Burger King has an extensive range of offerings that include burgers, wraps and the new BK Fried Chicken. Kolkata can now enjoy the highly popular Burger King’s Crispy range of burgers and taste the one-of-its-kind Chicken Tandoor Grill Burger. The menu also features several vegetarian burgers and a range of appetizers, along with floats and sundaes.
The employment generation, estimation and the numbers…?
Rajeev Varman: We don’t believe in making one-liners with numbers. In India, we have 6,000 employees at present and the number is increasing. All the products are created in this country and we have the brand and promoters from the US. We hope to provide quality food and carry the legacy of Burger King.