Assam restaurateur Chiranjeev Brahma shares his strategies for success

Rana Pratap Saikia

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Guwahati: If you step into 'The Maroon Room' in the heart of Guwahati, it is sure to make a mark with its captivating interiors, mouth-watering pan-Asian cuisine, and majestic live music. For local entrepreneur Chiranjeev Brahma, opening this fine-dine eatery seemed like the logical step after a string of successes in the restaurant business. In a recent interview with Business North East, the owner and director of Tribetown Hospitality Pvt Ltd outlined his vision and business strategy:

Business North East: You have come a long way in your entrepreneurial journey – where did you start?

Chiranjeev Brahma: In early 2019, our family decided to transition into business. With my elder sister Neena Brahma and her husband Rajiv Brahma leading our team, we put together a plan to open our first restaurant Yoko Sizzlers Guwahati, serving more than 40 varieties of sizzlers. We ran the business for 2 years in Ulubari. After the COVID-19 setback, however, we took a major decision and moved the entire business to City Center Mall. The restaurant was profitable from day one in its new home and gave us the confidence to continue our growth in the hospitality industry.

We began two projects in Aurus Mall in Guwahati in 2023 - The Maroon Room, a premiere pan-Asian kitchen and bar, and Boomerang – one of the largest and complete entertainment zones for kids in Guwahati. Currently, we are focused on incubating and stabilizing both businesses. Since 2019, we have set up KB Homes, a 15-room guest house with modern amenities, and TribeTown Kitchen – a restaurant serving authentic Naga and Boro cuisine led by my wife Jiyale Kath. The kitchen line comprises women only and we deliberately have not given them any training on commercial kitchens to ensure the preservation of traditional cooking methods.

BNE: Barely a year old, your The Maroon Room has earned rave reviews and awards. What was the inspiration behind it?

Chiranjeev Brahma: The inspiration behind The Maroon Room was our desire to dive into the alcohol and premiere fine dining business. With my exposure to global cities and dining experience, it was a logical next move for us to try offering Guwahati a world-class dining space. We worked with R4 Hospitality led by Mr Rohit Sharma, a Gurgaon-based restaurant conceptualizer, to bring our visions to life. It was his guidance and deep knowledge that led to the conceptualization of The Maroon Room.

BNE: What is your opinion on fine dining in Guwahati? And where does The Maroon Room fit into the picture?

Chiranjeev Brahma: Guwahati has some great food establishments that inspire. However, there are still gaps and it still has to catch up to the world-class dining experiences provided by cities like Mumbai. While our metro cities are chasing global cities – we in Guwahati are still chasing our metros such as Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, and the like. All great and award-winning restaurants in India source their ingredients from across the world and that is one of our key strategies. We at The Maroon Room too source our pork from Belgium, our Salmon from Norway, our Tuna from Vietnam, Hamachi from Japan, and sticky rice from Thailand – the list goes on. This ensures that our ingredients are top notch which makes a lot of difference. The Maroon Room is a brand made in Guwahati and we will keep on trying to compete at a global level. 

BNE: The Maroon Room is known for its support of local musicians – what is your opinion on the local music scene and its financial sustainability?

Chiranjeev Brahma: We made a conscious decision to never charge our guests for any of the entertainment at The Maroon Room. Children are always welcome here on all days and at all times. Being a musician myself, our philosophy was to make a venue where the sound was designed not for the audience but for the musicians. This by default ensured the live sound was so warm that guests could talk while enjoying the bands. There are times when some bands are loud, but we are learning every day. wE believe in supporting musicians from across the Northeast and, if possible, from across India and abroad. We are just happy to be able to provide a good platform to our musicians while ensuring revenue generation for them and great entertainment for our guests. 

BNE: Your establishment also boasts an art gallery – what do you think about the art scene in Assam and other Northeast Indian states?

Chiranjeev Brahma: The artwork in The Maroon Room was commissioned to a Delhi-based agency called Uneditioned Art which who roped in Santosh Yen, a master artist from Manipur. All the artwork in our restaurant is hand-painted and conceptualized at the site. It is needless to say our Northeast is rich in terms of the talent we have in this space. 

BNE: What is the secret to running a successful dining establishment in this part of the world? Is there any particular mantra for your quick success?

Chiranjeev Brahma: There is no mantra for success. In all our projects, we immersed ourselves deeply by running all aspects of the operations and strategy till we were in a state to hand them over to our employees after a year. This helped us scale up and continue in our growth path. This has also ensured that our employees have a continuous path to growth. Marketing has 4 essential Ps – product, place, price, and promotions – it is vital to get all these Ps to fall in place. We train our staff to not get stuck with problems – but to chase after their solutions.

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Rana Pratap Saikia