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The Journey and Vision of Sonia Mohindra and Under One Roof in the Hospitality Sector

Sonia Mohindra, a graduate of India’s Institute of Hotel Management in New Delhi, is a prominent figure in the country’s hospitality sector. With extensive experience at Apeejay Surrendra Group and ITC Hotel Ltd as an F&B Manager, she’s known for her expertise in strategy and concept development for hospitality solutions.

Co-founding Under One Roof in 1998 alongside her husband Manu Mohindra, an IHM Pusa Alumni, Sonia expanded the consultancy firm’s scope to include Hospitality Design in 2000. Leading a diverse team, she oversees F&B trainers, architects, MEP planners, and designers, and has completed 1650+ projects in 58 Indian cities and a dozen global cities, spanning hotels, restaurants, cafes, bars, luxury trains, QSRs, and food tech firms across South Asia, the Middle East, Europe, USA, Canada, and Australia.

Under One Roof offers comprehensive solutions—from concept planning to interior design, menu consultancy, brand creation, and marketing strategies. Recognised as the ‘Best Hospitality Consultancy Firm’ with numerous accolades, like The Hall of Fame- Restaurant Consultants and Several Hospitality Design Awards, it has over 350 award-winning projects.

Getting started

Sonia Mohindra’s journey into consultancy stemmed from a gap she noticed during her tenure at ITC Hotel Ltd. She reveals in an exclusive chat, 

“During my work there, an opportunity arose to be involved in new unit openings and the rebranding of existing units. This exposure led to the realisation that the resources and expertise available to stand-alone entrepreneurs in Hospitality at the time were limited and expensive. Hospitality Consultants were unheard of and unaffordable, as they usually came from overseas. Consultants in India were operating in silos of Kitchen planning/ Interior design/ Menu planning with no single agency ideating and curating with a Concept to Commissioning approach.”

Sonia and her husband seized the opportunity when approached by a hotel owner to create a new concept restaurant. This marked the birth of Under One Roof (UOR). As she says,

“There was no looking back from that point onward.”  

About Under One Roof

Under One Roof is renowned for its services encompassing business planning, interior design, MEP (Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing), facility management, SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures), manpower hiring, training, culinary development, beverage programming, and branding—all under one roof. Sonia notes,

“This provides clients with a single-window solution, eliminating the need to juggle multiple agencies and professionals such as design agencies, branding experts, chefs, and trainers.”

Moreover, she believed that hospitality thrives on relationships. As a result, they have cultivated strong bonds with their brands, clients, and the teams working behind the scenes, enabling them to deliver exceptional hospitality.

Challenges faced

In the nascent stages, establishing trust among customers in the capability of a single agency to provide a comprehensive solution posed a significant task.   

“This was overcome once we had several successful projects under our belt. Hotel companies were wary of using local consultants for Concept and Ideation but gave way once they saw the commercial success of stand-alone competitors.”

Securing quality manpower in the industry presented another challenge, tackled through rigorous training programs and fostering strong relationships to curb attrition rates.

Yet, the most formidable challenge surfaced during the COVID-19 pandemic. New projects ground to a halt, with cancellations and suspensions widespread. As newly opened establishments struggled with insufficient cash flow, Under One Roof responded by creating a Hospitality Manpower Registry and offering complimentary placement services nationwide. 

“From Creation/ Ideation, we focused our energies on Strategic advisory services to assist existing businesses- Hotels and Restaurants, reestablish themselves. We lowered our Fees, gave existing clients heavily discounted fees with easy payment plans to not burden their already stretched Cash flows.”

Achievements so far

“One notable indicator of our success as Hospitality Consultants is the fact that our profession no longer requires extensive explanation; it speaks for itself.”

The company is also proud of having conceptualised and sustained ideas that have kept business owners engaged in the dynamic world of hospitality. Under One Roof also boasts a portfolio spanning from 150 sq ft kiosks to 5-star hotels. However, their most esteemed accomplishment lies in industry recognition. The receipt of a prestigious Hall of Fame Award as Restaurant Consultants holds special significance.

Plans ahead

Under One Roof is eyeing an expanded global footprint, particularly targeting a stronger presence in the European Union market. Domestically, the focus remains on elevating services to assist hotels at different lifecycle stages. 

From initial concept creation to sustaining operational excellence, the aim is to extend comprehensive industry expertise and strategic guidance, enabling clients to attain their objectives within the fiercely competitive hospitality landscape. Lastly, Sonia says, 

“For hotels, we have a special focus on enhancing their F&B offerings, optimising operations to achieve sustainable growth in today’s competitive market.”

Lessons learned

Interviewer: Is there a message you would like to share with budding entrepreneurs in the hospitality domain?

Sonia: “Hospitality offers a world with many dimensions- design, customer service, culinary arts, communication, and marketing. Learn from history, but don’t limit yourselves- we are limited only by our imagination.” 

As Sonia signs off, she wants everyone to remember the importance of prioritising the business enterprise above all else in consultancy. Moreover, she encourages everyone to not get scared of trying new things as long as they believe in them. She asserts, 

“There will always be naysayers. Entrepreneurship can be a lonely road, and collaboration with innovation will be the way forward in this post-COVID era.”

Snigdha Basu
Snigdha Basu
A multifaceted writer, Snigdha Basu is a freelancer and a columnist at Entrepreneurs Today. She also spearheads Chic Life Edition - her own Digital Magazine with sustainable fashion, beauty, and culture at its core. Reach out to Snigdha at [email protected] for inquiries.
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