By Swatee Jog
Not very long ago when the first hammer fell on the erstwhile Kapeel theatre, there was much talk about the new mall that was coming up in its place. Rumours floated about its possible size, occupants and the price of the goods available there. The humble Big Bazaar also created such a buzz. Such excitement was not seen before in Belgaum for few exciting things actually happened then!
Cut to a few months ago when talk of KFC, Dominos, Subway and the like opening at Belgaum was taken with a pinch of salt for few believed that this would actually happen. Belgaumites had actually resigned to the fact that Mac -D and KFC would never be a local delight. Many families and groups of friends still travel to Hubli or Kolhapur on weekends to savour the fare. The real excitement began when both Jubilant and Yum groups advertised for staff vacancies for newly opening outlets in Belgaum. That was when the new construction at JNMC was attributed to the Convention center and the big brands and people believed that they are coming for real.
A dipstick survey at college campus gave big surprises. Students are definitely happy that KFC and Subway, Dominos are coming to Belgaum, but there is no considerable excitement or that ‘Yaaay’ factor out there in their tone. Some lamented that for the first few days, the KFC joint will be crowded by the JNMC guys. Some said merely hanging out there would give so much joy. Have a look at the parking lot at JNMC or KLE and you’ll find rows upon rows of cars with RTO passings of CH, PB, BH, AS, NG and the like. That is the Target Group that KFC will cater to for its daily business – those with deep pockets and a taste for the branded stuff. And yes, Belgaumites are nothing less when it comes to patronizing and splurging on quality stuff! Case in question: the steady crowds at US Pizza / Naturals / Kakewalks. So guess the MNC brands are going to have a gala time here.
Some of the students’ reactions included:
“OK fine KFC’s here, we’ll check out someday soon”
“I’m just waiting for the day it opens, been hearing about dates for long”
“Thank God KFC has Veg stuff, or I’ll just have to pass time.” ( KFC is still synonymous with Chicken dishes)
“If we don’t afford the costly stuff, at least we’ll taste the Crushers!”
“At last, Belguam will get what it deserves!”
The common man seems least bothered, for the new joints are beyond his reach in terms of the pizzazz or the cost. But there seems to be a new segment of consumers who are well travelled, well read, earn more and can spend more, who just want to have some fun time with family and friends over some delicacies and enjoy the ambiance.
With Belgaum getting new hangouts by the day ( check Kool Katta, Wild Sugar, Crust n Kreme, Subz-i-Khaas, etc. ), the smiles are going to arch up and so are the waistlines going to bulge unless we pull out the jogging shoes and hit the roads. Perhaps, time for Belgaum to get some good walking tracks and affordable gyms! Till then, bon appetit!
Swatee Jog is a Training and Placement Officer at Bharatesh Global Business School, and her articles have been published in Mint, HT and DNA and she has also authored two books which are being published, one on management and one science book for kids.