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