One of the growing sectors in Bangladesh is the restaurant and fast-food sectors. Initially, this growth was mainly in Dhaka city-centered, but it has gradually spread beyond the divisional cities and penetrated the district towns. Over the past decade, foreign restaurant chains and several local food chains have gained popularity, with many local restaurants now adapting franchise models from smaller single locations. One of them is Khana’s, which started its journey from a food cart and later established the Food Court Idea. It is now a hyped brand in Bangladesh’s fast food and restaurant sector.
Journey of Khana’s
The founders of Khana’s are Ehsan Ahmed, Redhwanur Rahman, and Shahin Mahmud. Ehsan Ahmed graduated from Stamford University, Redhwanur Rahman from National University, and Shahin Mahmud from Chittagong University. They became good friends around 2012 while working at the Bashundhara Group. They would visit different parts of the city to explore new things after office hours. At that time, they were quite surprised to hear that the monthly income of an egg seller was 50 thousand BDT.
Out of love for food and with the idea of selling food at affordable prices, they started a business called “Ande Khana.” The tagline “Ande Khana” was “An Economy Refreshment.” The pan was to make all the food items in the kitchen with eggs. At first, they took a van from one of their office workers and turned it into a food cart for experimentation. At the end of office hours, they used to sell fast food like Shawarma, burgers, and fries in carts in the Mirpur 10 area. “Ande Khana” gained popularity among its customers in a short period. Ande Khana had three franchises, which they sold for BDT 2.5 lakh. They used to supply the raw materials to prepare the food for these franchises from ‘Ande Khana. ‘Since there are no guidelines for running a food cart business in our country, they often face legal issues. As a result, they started looking for a permanent solution to this problem.
At that time, they heard of a ‘real estate’ being prepared to set up a traditional bazar near Bashundhara, a place more popular by the name 300 feet. So the three entrepreneurs went to the owner of that ‘real estate.’ They pitched him the idea of an open food court, where multiple restaurants and vendors would offer their foods to customers. In addition, there would be a generalized seating area for customers to enjoy their meal from multiple different vendors and spend quality time with friends. The real estate owner liked their idea and founded ‘Kazi Food Island.’ As the ‘Kazi Food Island’ was opened, “Ande Khana” was one of the few restaurants operating from the start. Although, they had adopted a new name, rebranding their restaurant as “Khana’s.” Under its new name, in addition to the regular menu, they added fast food items such as sub sandwiches, cold coffee, and wedges. Initially, Khana’s Bashundhara targeted students of private universities in nearby areas and set their prices accordingly. Serving quality food at an affordable price compared to others, consumers soon began to like Khana’s food items. As a result, Khana’s Wages and Cold Coffee have gained considerable popularity among their target customers.
On the topic of Popularity, Ehsan Ahmed, Co-founder & Head of Business Development, said: “Firstly, our food taste and our MRP are budget-friendly. These are the reasons we gained popularity quickly.” As a result, the restaurant’s sales slowly increased, and many showed interest in taking up Khana’s franchise. As Khana’s gained popularity from its small outlet in 300 feet, they decided to expand the restaurant’s business through franchises. But before that, the restaurant opened its clubhouse outlet in Bashundhara. In this new outlet, they kept an open space in the restaurant’s design to attract young customers and used a black theme in the interior. In addition, they started selling foods in 5 segments, including burgers, sandwiches, chicken, potatoes and shakes or cold drinks at affordable prices targeting university students.
According to Ehsan Ahmed, “We have an R&D department that continuously works on our food culture and trends. We develop our foods depending on their market analysis. For example, at Khana’s, we produce our masala in the factory, and it is one of the key ingredients in our food. As we are not dependent on packaged masala, the taste of our food remains different from others and helps us market our food uniquely.”
In addition, by using cardboard for packaging from the beginning, the restaurant’s food could be easily carried besides enjoying in the restaurant. Also, from the beginning of their journey, instead of adding new food items to Khana’s menu, the focus has been on maintaining the quality of the food. Moreover, since its inception, Khana’s has been one of the leading restaurant chains in Bangladesh to reach out to customers through social media engagements. Which has helped the restaurant reach more new customers. At present, Khana’s has ten outlets in Dhaka city.
According to Shahin Mahmud, Co-founder and Head of operations, “To meet the demands of foodies all across the country, we Khana’s are working on opening outlets in 20 cities across all Divisions. Additionally, our vision is to establish Kahana’s as a multinational brand. As a part of this, we are working on opening outlets in London and Bangkok in 2025.”
Khana’s outlets are usually of two types, flagship, and classic. Outlets larger than 2,000 square feet are considered flagship, while outlets larger than 1,000 square feet are considered classic. Khanas has three classic outlets, including 1 in Uttara, 2 in Mohammadpur, and seven flagship outlets in Wari, Khilgaon, Uttara, Mirpur, Dhanmondi, Bailey Road, and Shyamoli. The restaurant chain plans to launch one flagship and one classic outlet nationally in each division between 2023 and 2024. Khana also plans to set up outlets in London and Bangkok by 2024 to expand the international restaurant chain.