An Unsolicited Proposal to Hotel Saravana Bhavan

Hotel Saravana Bhavan (hereinafter referred to as HSB) is a phenomenon. Annachi (occasionally called P Rajagopal) started out in Vadapalani K K Nagar (Thanks, Ravages), Chennai in 1981 and never looked back after that. The rate at which HSB opens new branches is almost bacterial. Now one can enjoy the mini-idlis soaked in divine saambaar even in Atlanta, Georgia.

As an organization, HSB has is a great case study in its own right. It managed, without suit-wearing MBAs needing to draw astronomical salaries, to get most of Business 1.0 right.

  • Excellent Supply Chain Management
  • Insanely effective Process Standardization – within limits of the Heisenberg Uncertainty principle, their saambaar has been measured to have the same molecular structure at every HSB branch.
  • And several other pompous sounding management jargon.

But is HSB ready for Web 2.0?

I think not. So I wish to make an unsolicited proposal to the proprietors of HSB, urging them to build Restaurant 2.0, a social, peer to peer experience built on an architecture of participation. A restaurant that taps into the wisdom of crowds in addition to the thanni lorries of summer.

What is Restaurant 2.0?

It starts with Menu 2.0. As a patron, I’d like to know more than just the name and cost of a dish. I need me some Social Interaction data, amigo. So this is what I have in mind.

Yes, give me photos of dishes, and user ratings. I, for one, would have loved to see the Tomato soup rated 1/5 for the unholy amount of pepper it comes with. Capturing this kind of data from your users serves a very userful business purpose as well. It will help you plan supplies in a much more real-time fashion.

So how do you build Menu 2.0? Simple, touch screen monitors embedded in the tables. Saves paper, and that gives you Greenie points (short for Green brownie points, which sounds ridiculous)

When I wish to explore the masala dosa in more detail, I’d love to see what other items go well with it.

And it’ll be nice if I could find out what other customers eventually ordered after looking at this item.

And what about other patrons’ comments on dishes, preferably with some moderation/filtration features

And once I’m done ordering the Special Ghee Masala roast from Menu 2.0, I wait for Dish 2.0.

And once it arrives, I’d like some 2.0 goodness as a sidedish. I’d like to know who else in the restaurant is currenly eating the same dish I am eating, so that I can add them to my facebook friends list later. And I should also be able to save my favourite sequence of Saambaar Vada, Special Ghee Masala roast, small cup sweet Pongal and a filter coffee to my Hoglist that I can share with others. In fact, when I’m in a hurry, I could just pull up my “Heavy Kattufying” hoglist and order it straight without wasting time going through the menu again.

And I also would’t mind an Eating activity feed that my dietician can subscribe to on his RSS reader, and send me warning twitter messages asking me to stay off the extra large Rava kesari.

Elastic Cooking Cloud

And you know what, HSB should take their excellent business model and make it a platform. Yes, I’m talking

They can help budding resturauteurs get a quick start by providing REST APIs (REstaurant State Transfer) that can quickly get a business off the ground. The idea is to provide the machinery or running a restaurant (cooking, serving, billing) for others to use. So I should be able to start a Jalsa Cafe while outsourcing cooking, serving and billing to HSB.

There HSB. I’ve given you the secrets of Restaurant 2.0. Now go do it.