Head to Head: Roti Rollers

Founder Ahsan Kahlon and chef Sameer explain how Roti Rollers is trying to turn Indian cuisine on its head
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Ahsan Kahlon, founder and owner of Roti Rollers
Ahsan Kahlon, founder and owner of Roti Rollers
Sameer, head chef at Roti Rollers
Sameer, head chef at Roti Rollers

What is unique about Roti Rollers and how does it compare to its competitors in the market?

Ahsan Kahlon: We are trying to create a healthier fast casual Indian restaurant, which doesn’t exist in Dubai. We specialise in wraps/rolls and don’t make curries. We try to limit the use of oil, and grill as many of our dishes in the tandoor as possible.

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Sameer: Roti Rollers is unique in its approach towards Indian street food, using modern gastronomy, Eastern & Western flavours, ingredients, and techniques with traditional Indian street food and presenting it tastefully in Dubai. 

How do the front-of-house and back-of-house support each other?

Ahsan Kahlon: They have to be one seamless team, especially with our concept.  The FOH are the primary guys to assemble the food and so have to know the dishes inside out. When we get busy the chefs are out there rolling or serving and chatting to guests.

Sameer: FOH and BOH are extensions of one team. BOH has been trained in guest handling, and FOH has been has been extensively trained in preparation of food, so they are very well versed in methods and the ingredients of each dish. In fact, FOH does finishing of assembly of each dish.

How is the pricing strategy justified?

Ahsan Kahlon: Pricing is always a tough one. We ultimately want to represent value. For us that means the most premium ingredients, service and atmosphere. 

Sameer: Roti Roller dishes are placed at mid-segment, and our prices offer great value. Customers will find fresh premium ingredients in sizeable portions at a competitive price.

How will you ensure the brand is profitable?

Ahsan Kahlon: Profitability will come from loyalty and our fans. We aim to make delicious, healthy street food to keep our customers coming back, and hopefully bringing their friends! Staying true to the brand ethos is vital.

Sameer: Keeping variable costs low and pushing the sales up constantly, each day, each hour. We continue to improve our product and brand visibility whenever possible, so much so that we actually adhere to customer feedback.

What are the biggest challenges you face?

Ahsan Kahlon: Dubai is currently going through a bit of a slow down combined with record openings in the F&B sector, so there is more competition than ever before.

Sameer: Our challenge lies in educating everyone about what we are trying to achieve. It can be a struggle making people understand why our prices are not the same as hole-in-the-wall street food outlets.

What does the future of Roti Rollers look like?

Ahsan Kahlon: Very positive. We have opened two outlets in less than a year and have been overwhelmed by the response. The food has won awards already and we continue to grow everyday. 

Sameer: We are a young brand, so just taking baby steps and getting ready to take leaps. With a young brand, there is a lot of wiggle room to amend the product and adapt to the market environment at an early stage.

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