Inside and Outside a Restaurant

Update: As of August 2009, I am no longer asso­ci­at­ed with this restau­rant and am no longer involved in the food busi­ness.

Apart from my reg­u­lar IT job, one of the things I do is run a restau­rant. Indi­an blog­gers are typ­i­cal­ly con­sumers. That’s how we have restau­rant reviews (like this excel­lent one), describe our expe­ri­ences with restau­rant own­ers, com­plain about broad­band ser­vice providers, and so on. Entre­pre­neur­ial blog­gers are usu­al­ly from the high-tech indus­try. I have yet to see an Indi­an blog­ger who runs a restau­rant — if you know one, please let me know!

It all start­ed around ten years back, when I moved to Pune. I observed the restau­rant scene here and was intrigued. I thought of start­ing a restau­rant of my own. It was a dream. The food busi­ness in Pune is phe­nom­e­nal and I want­ed to be a part of it. In Pune, this is one busi­ness propo­si­tion that nev­er seems to fail.

There were many chal­lenges. Hav­ing a full time job didn’t help. I didn’t have any of the nec­es­sary resources — finance, con­tacts, domain knowl­edge, and so on. So over the last few years, I slow­ly har­nessed these, and chased my dream.

When things actu­al­ly start­ed mate­ri­al­iz­ing, it was a night­mar­ish scene that would do jus­tice to a blog of its own. Get­ting legal, oper­a­tional, bureau­crat­ic, gov­ern­men­tal, stuff done is not easy for an edu­cat­ed mid­dle-class per­son in India — it requires non-aca­d­e­m­ic skills that I wasn’t pre­pared for at all. But this was one of the whole point of the exer­cise — no one from my fam­i­ly had ever entered into busi­ness. I was the sole fool­ish one.

Final­ly, in June this year, I was able to rent a place and start my own restau­rant. Here are some pho­tographs of the restau­rant, includ­ing some from the kitchen. Click on any of the pho­tographs to see the larg­er ver­sion. The tem­po­rary shade you see in the first pho­to­graph is put up for the mon­soon sea­son. Once it is removed, the out­side area is open to the sky and is quite pleas­ant.

Since I was a child, I was curi­ous about one thing. It took my mom or any oth­er Indi­an house­wife at least an hour to pre­pare a sin­gle planned meal — how could the restau­rant chefs pre­pare your cho­sen item from among a hun­dred in only 15–20 min­utes? I got all such answers to my curios­i­ty as part of my domain research.

The image at the right shows Indi­an condi­ments (spices) that are used for North Indi­an dish­es.

The fig­ure at the left shows condi­ments and oth­er com­mon ingre­di­ents used in Indi­an Chi­nese cook­ing.

Note that Indi­an Chi­nese cook­ing is vast­ly dif­fer­ent from authen­tic Chi­nese, as most Indi­an read­ers of my blog would be aware.

I’ve out­sourced the actu­al day-to-day man­age­ment of the restau­rant and only play a super­vi­so­ry role. Staff man­age­ment is one of the most crit­i­cal aspects of run­ning a restau­rant, and han­dling attri­tion is very sim­i­lar to the Indi­an IT indus­try.

There have been many inter­est­ing expe­ri­ences when deal­ing with cus­tomers. One of the most prob­lem­at­ic chal­lenges dur­ing cur­rent times has been change. There is sim­ply no change avail­able from any source.

The equip­ment to the right is a “cur­ry-mak­ing machine”. There are three dif­fer­ent types of “cur­ries” or “gravies” for all North Indi­an dish­es. Green, white, and red. This machine is used to make the red gravy that is the base for mak­ing about 75% of North Indi­an dish­es. This gravy is made 3–4 times a week. This also means that every North Indi­an dish you eat in a restau­rant is not guar­an­teed to always be ful­ly fresh — or made that day. You may be eat­ing cur­ry that was pre­pared yes­ter­day, or worse, day-before-yes­ter­day.

The pho­to above shows fresh veg­eta­bles from the mar­ket, ready to be cleaned and used. Basic stuff like food grains and rice is bought twice a month, while fresh veg­eta­bles are bought 3–4 times a week, depend­ing upon the con­sump­tion. Some per­ish­able items, like corian­der, need to be bought every day.

Final­ly, these two pho­tographs show the Indi­an tan­door. The tan­door chef is prepar­ing the tan­door roti and naan that are ubiq­ui­tous North Indi­an breads. The pho­to to the left actu­al­ly shows the char­coal at the bot­tom, and the rotis stuck to the inside of the tan­door oven.

A tan­door oven is “ini­tial­ized” by coat­ing the insides with a spe­cial mix­ture con­sist­ing of many ingre­di­ents includ­ing egg. So all veg­e­tar­i­ans who eat veg­e­tar­i­an tan­door dish­es or roti/naan, are actu­al­ly unaware that they are eat­ing some­thing that was stuck close­ly onto a mix­ture that con­tained egg.

So, these are some glimpses into the insides of a typ­i­cal restau­rant. Do let me know if you liked the post!

If you’d like to know loca­tion details and direc­tions to get there, con­tin­ue read­ing…

The address of the place is:

Yash Fam­i­ly Restau­rant
Pashan Sus Road, Pune.
Tel: (020) 25861415/25861665

It is locat­ed on a 2-minute dri­ve off the Mum­bai-Pune-Ban­ga­lore express­way.

From Mum­bai

If you’re com­ing from Mum­bai, cross the Wakad-Hin­je­w­a­di fly­over, the Toy­ota show­room, the Baner Road inter­sec­tion, till you reach the GM Chevro­let show­room. You’ll exit the express­way to your left, and dri­ve onto Pashan-Sus road. Cross Reliance Retail fresh on your left, and you’ll imme­di­ate­ly see Yash Restau­rant on your left.

From Pune

From Chan­dani Chowk, pro­ceed towards Mum­bai. You’ll pass Pashan Lake on your right, after which you reach the GM Chevro­let show­room on your left. Exit the express­way to your right, dri­ve onto Pashan-Sus road. Cross Reliance Retail fresh on your left, and you’ll imme­di­ate­ly see Yash Restau­rant on your left.

YashRestaurantMap

(Click on map for larg­er ver­sion, or click link below to go to Google Maps)

View Google Map


All pho­tographs are copy­right­ed to me.

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  • Wow ! thats real­ly nice to see a IT man, doing such things too. How you man­age the time ???

  • Mahen­dra,
    You have a restau­rant and still hold on to a job? Loudon Earth, WHY?
    Give this restau­rant all you have got, and make a prod­uct so that peo­ple come down from oth­er cor­ners of the coun­try to eat on a Sun­day! I would nev­er let go of such a chance.…
    Very inter­est­ing, and do tell us how wait­ers spit on the soup of those who didn’t tip well last time, or were rude!
    🙂
    PS- real­ly enjoyed this post!

  • Wow! This is fan­tas­tic. The hid­den side of you. This restau­rant looks absolute­ly won­der­ful and CLEAN. We are always look­ing for restau­rants in Pune as we go there only for the week­end at times…so please do send me the loca­tion details.
    Thanks.

  • The restau­rant looks won­der­ful. Let us know when you have expan­sion plans. Del­hi is an excel­lent place to open food joints. That egg thing can actu­al­ly both­er veg­e­tar­i­ans!!! Can’t help the sto­ry is the same in all restaurants.I real­ly enjoyed the post. It had a dif­fer­ent flavour.

  • Why (and what) are you being so mod­est for? Announce the name and loca­tion of your restau­rant in 20pt bold­face in red col­or, prefer­ably with dark bor­der around it!

  • Sowmya: it’s tough, but just like many oth­er things in life! 🙂 Thanks for stop­ping by and com­ment­ing!

    Ram­bodoc: I wish it were that easy! Come to Pune and you’ll see a restau­rant every few feet you walk, tout­ing cuisines from all parts of the world! If you want to join me in com­ing up with such a product…you’re wel­come! 🙂

    Nita: Thanks! I think I’ll post location/direction details as a sep­a­rate post alto­geth­er! I’m a stick­ler as far as clean­li­ness is con­cerned. I reg­u­lar­ly inspect the kitchen on a rou­tine basis, as hygiene is of prime impor­tance.

    Pre­rna: This is exact­ly what my cousin from Del­hi said when she heard about this! 🙂 Thanks for your com­ments and I’m glad you liked how it looks.

    Priyank: Ha ha! 🙂 I’ll post the location/direction details sep­a­rate­ly.

  • First fan­tas­tic pen­cil sketch­es, and then a fine look­ing restau­rant.

    So how many more rab­bits you got in your hat 😉 ?

  • Arun: No, I don’t do ESP shows and I don’t pull rab­bits out of my hat! 😉

    Nita/Priyank/All: I’ve updat­ed the post to give loca­tion and direc­tions for those who’re inter­est­ed. Do give me a buzz when you plan to drop in!

  • Pre­rna: Just real­ized after I’d respond­ed: //enjoyed the post. It had a dif­fer­ent flavour.// — Was the pun intend­ed? 🙂

  • I am hap­py you noticed it. It was intentional.although it is defi­nate­ly not my strong point 🙂

  • OMG! Nev­er expect­ed a post on Yash! An inter­est­ing one!

    Yash is one restau­rant in this part of the city where I can eat peace­ful­ly, not wor­ry­ing if the plate is well-cleaned or the food was made y’day (but the gravy thing is a bit dis­turb­ing :D)

    Thanks for sati­at­ing my appetite on week­ends!

  • So now we have rec­om­men­da­tions, that too from a fel­low mutiny mem­ber! guess Yash is a place which has become a MUST vis­it!

  • Pre­rna: That was a great one! Puns are not my strong point either; espe­cial­ly with stal­warts like Ashok and Ram­bodoc amongst us!

    Har­sha: Wow — I nev­er expect­ed to have not just a read­er, but some­one on my blogroll, who has vis­it­ed Yash already! This is unnerv­ing as well as a pleas­ant sur­prise!

    Regard­ing the gravy: yes, there are many dis­turb­ing things about eat­ing out­side that we’re usu­al­ly not aware of! At Yash, it was dif­fi­cult in the ini­tial stage when we couldn’t pre­dict the no. of cus­tomers. After the reg­u­lar cycle is set, we’re now able to opti­mize it so that the worst case is you get yesterday’s gravy. You’ll be amazed if I tell you what hap­pens at most oth­er places! 🙂

    Thanks for the feed­back. I’m very hap­py!

    Nita: yes, you MUST vis­it! 🙂

  • Fakhri

    I’ve known this guy from a long time now, and I remem­ber we dis­cussing about this restau­rant busi­ness while we worked togeth­er. I nev­er knew he actu­al­ly meant to go ahead and make this a real­i­ty. While some of us con­tin­ue dream­ing, at least one amongst us had the courage to do some­thing about it 🙂

  • Hey Fakhri, thanks! 🙂 Hope everything’s fine at your end, and hope to see you at the restau­rant some­time!

  • Mahen­dra,

    Real­ly heart­en­ing to see a soft­ware guy pur­su­ing some­thing so dif­fer­ent.

    In case you have not rec­og­nized me, we worked togeth­er at Ente­vo!
    Should vis­it your restau­rant some­time.
    Can you also post the menu, please? 🙂

    -Abhi­jit.

  • Abhi­jit — what a sur­prise to see you here! Of course, I rec­og­nized you…come on! Thanks for drop­ping by.

    Well, you came to the blog to see the pic­tures, now come to the restau­rant to see the menu! 🙂 I promise you, you’ll be glad you vis­it­ed…:-)

  • mahen­dra,

    its great you have man­aged to chase and make your dream come true after many years of study and hard­work on same.

    I was­nt even aware of this new restau­rant on sus road :); will try out food some­time.

  • Hi Vijay,

    Wel­come to my blog…ani prati­sad­abad­dal dhanyavaad! Yes, please do vis­it. I won­der how you found this post — I can’t fig­ure out from my stats!

  • Fakhri

    MP, Vijays my office friend and I sent them this blog link 😉

  • Oh — so you’re gonna send some guinea pigs over first, eh?! 🙂

    Thanks buddy…appreciate it.

  • Will I get a dis­count if I bring a print out of this post to the restau­rant? 🙂

  • I’ve always want­ed to start my own restau­rant. When I am ready to take the plunge, I will sure­ly come to you for advice and tips.

  • Oemar,
    Then Mahen­dra will have one more rea­son for an Unqui­et Mind!
    🙂

  • Oemar/Rambodoc: come and find out for your­self! 😀

    arZan: You are most wel­come!

  • Well said Doc…
    Mahen­dra, I will sure­ly come the next time I am in Pune

  • V.Jaikumar

    Dear Mahen­dra Prat­ap,

    I too am bit­ten buy the bug to start a restau­rant in Pune. Both me and my friend, who are ven­tur­ing into this have no back­ground in the busi­ness. But we sure­ly want to give it our best.

    I will be great­ly oblig­ed if you cn give me some sug­ges­tions on the fol­low­ing:

    1. Where do I start from to build on the busi­ness plan?

    2. I would like to get in touch with some reput­ed turnkey con­sul­tants who can part­ner us from start to fin­ish. Can you help with some infor­ma­tion?

    3. Would like to have a list (with con­tact details of sup­pli­ers of kitchen equip­ment.

    4. Would dear­ly love to have a list of var­i­ous per­mis­sions. licens­es and clearences to be obtained for this busi­ness.

    5. Would like to know what should be a ball park bud­get (under dif­fer­ent heads) to keep in mind and pro­vide for in the ven­ture

    6. How do we source the right staff? What types of per­son­nel would be required? — Where do we recruit them from?

    7. We are plan­ning about 2500 to 3000 sq ft of space includ­ing all — pre­domi­nent­ly niche typ­i­cal southin­di­an fare — with lim­it­ed choice like sand­wich­es, bhel,. What would you sug­gest as the mar­ket­ing USPs?

    I have a whole lot of queries to pick your mind — I guess I will take the lib­er­ty of drop­ping in at your place to dis­cuss with you fur­ther.

    Would look for­ward to your inputs.

    Thanks and regards,

    Jaiku­mar

  • This sounds so sim­i­lar to what i am plan­ning to do in the near future!
    Good luck with the venture…and good job. Now i know some­one who could give me some tips when i am start­ing out 🙂

  • AtulP

    Mahen­dra,
    Nice to know that Yash is doing well. As some­one said Take a Full Plunge!! And come to Del­hi!!! As such “Yash” sounds fair­ly North Indi­an name!!

  • Sunil Phansalkar

    Hi Mahen­dra,

    Got to read this today. A Bit late but bet­ter late.… The food we tast­ed on Danika’s birth­day was as good as any oth­er place i have ever been to.
    Feels good to have a fam­i­ly mem­ber actu­al­ly own a restu­ar­ant !!!! A Real­i­ty Dream ??

    All the very best and may you grow big enough some­day to offer me a job of a F(ood)inance 🙂 Man­ag­er in your star hotel .….

    Love,
    Sunil

  • Hope your restraunts doing well, all the best 😀

  • swap­nil naik

    hi mahen­dra , well read you post it looks good . i am also an amat­uer who wants to go good in this busi­ness. i worked in a indi­an restau­rant in usa by the name sitar indi­an cusione. i just came back last month and am look­ing for­ward for some kind of break in hospitality.well i know how arestau­rant runs and am quite eli­gi­ble to bring in good results . if you find some­thing thats use­ful do buzz back.regards . swap­nil

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  • It is so beau­ti­ful and so entic­ing! You must be a very rich man!

    I aim to open a restau­rant some day (am still a job­less PhD stu­dent) and it will be a low-calo­ries, boiled veg­gies restau­rant for health!

  • Oh Darn, I hate being in Hol­land right now! I’d die for a decent Indi­an meal right now.

    Btw. Do you have a com­pa­ny web­site?

    Good Luck with the restau­rant!

    Cheers,

    P.

  • Keta­ki

    Hi Mahen­dra,

    Hats of to your deter­mi­naion to chase ur dream even while u are work­ing. I wish lot of suc­cess to your ven­ture and may you expand your dream still fur­ther. I am cur­rent­ly work­ing on the plan for my restaurant.But i a not sure how do i and from where do I start. I plan to open a mul­ti cui­sine restau­rant either in pune or mum­bai. This will be exclu­sive con­ti­nen­tal. Can u give me some tips and advice on how do i start ?

    Thanks in advance

    Regards
    Keta­ki

  • Atul

    Hi Mahen­dra me and I friend were won­der­ing if you can advice us on where to get details of the legal aspects of open­ing a small joint in pune?

    any help would be great 🙂

  • d shet­ty

    i have seen your rest if you are plan­ing to give on rent pls let me know

  • Hi Mahen­dra,

    While brows­ing through resto’ stuff.…I was curi­ous to know more about ur blog.….and hence read further…till the end…all the com­ments and replies.…Great and Tough Job …con­tin­u­ing 2 very dif­fer­ent fields — IT and FOOD.…

    I am plan­ning a vis­it to Pune next week, and would be hap­py to vis­it ur resto’ and meet u too.…

    My vis­it is basi­cal­ly a ” Mar­ket Research” trip…for a new Cafe’ that shall be launched soon in Pune, if every­thing is in place. (Not a com­pe­ti­tion to you at all)

    Hope you would be inter­est­ed in help­ing me by spar­ing few min­utes out of your pre­cious time…

    If you agree, then I would like to have your num­ber and address.…

    Thanks in advance.…

    Regards,

    Prakash…919347243628…kashdugar@yahoo.com

  • Arvind

    Awe­some work Mahen­dra, you are tru­ly dexterous…I also don’t want to quit my job and at the same time want to open a theme cafe in Noi­da.. would love to get tips from you.

  • vish­wa­jeet

    Hel­lo Mahen­dra, I was just surf­ing net to check out the do’s and dont’s of start­ing a restau­rant busi­ness and just hap­pened to bump into your blog.
    I am also a IT pro­fes­sion­al and on week­ends love to uti­lize my friends as guine pigs for var­i­ous food dish­es i pre­pare. off late I am very seri­ous­ly think­ing about start­ing my own restau­rant in Pune.
    And as I am writ­ing this com­ment while I am in office, it should vouch for my seri­ous­ness.
    Let me know if you are look­ing for some­one to act as a part­ner in your busi­ness. I am real­ly eager to chip in in terms of mon­ey, time and most impor­tant of all pas­sion. What I am think­ing about is first estab­lish­ing and sta­bi­liz­ing the busi­ness in mar­ket and then devot­ing full time by quit­ting my IT job.
    And I will def­i­nite­ly vis­it Yash some­time before next fort­night to get the feel and taste of high­ly tout­ed food there :))

    Vish­wa­jeet