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