Maach(fish) and mishti(sweets) is what Bengalis live by and satiating their taste buds since 1994 is Kasturi, a brand serving authentic Bangladeshi cuisine. Presently headed by Bishal Saha the second generation of the founder family, Kasturi, meaning fragrance or musk, continues to be a favourite among the bong foodies.
Founded by Late Gopal Chandra Saha, Kasturi boasts of spicy and robust food, with an interesting spread of traditional Dhakai dishes including Dhakai Morog Pulao, Kochupatae Chingri Bhapa, Ilish Bhapa, Bhuna Khichudi. The award-winning, joint located in the heart of the city pioneered this type of cuisine in Kolkata.
As a third generation entrepreneur in F&B industry (his grandfather was a restaurateur in Dhaka) and second in the family business, most of the tricks of this trade came to him by inheritance. Being born into a family of restaurateur, Saha has all along lived to in the world of food and has now established himself as an entrepreneur with unmatched business acumen.
Saha was visibly enthused to participate in Restaurant India 2017 East India Edition, held in Kolkata on June 22 and called it very helpful as he was able to learn a lot from the people of the industry and got good exposure as well.
Speaking to Restaurant India, Saha explained how he joined family business, his experience since then and his challenges and learnings.
What all you dabbled in before getting into your family business?
I took over my Father's business post completing my graduation in 2010, when Kasturi had only one restaurant in entire Kolkata. After competing my Graduation I was planning to go to Australia for further studies however before I could actually move there I decided to go to Kasturi just to get an understanding of our business, here is when I realized the actual potential of my business and my vision for this brand came. My vision and systematic planning has indeed helped me grow from a single unit to seven units in a time frame of 7 years making it one of the sought after Bengali restaurant brands in Kolkata. I am an ardent foodie often experimenting with new recipes and have been successful in bringing out some of the most innovative dishes like Bekti Sizzlar or Bekti Florntine to name a few.
What all did you keep in the business and what did you change?
I strongly vouch for the core or essence of Kasturi as a food joint which fundamentally includes food quantity and quality along with the belief that customer is God and must be treated like one. I am only changing the brand in its external spaces like presentation and ambience while keeping the soul intact.
Since 2010 Kasturi has been on an expansion mode and has opened its Ballygunge outlet in September 2011 with a 34-seater. Today I operate a chain of 6 restaurants in Kolkata and one in Gwahati, Assam. In the pipeline is my new brand ‘Banglar Swad’ which is a theme based restaurant which aims at bringing in the taste of rural Bengal to the customers. Besides, I am planning to bring in the health quotient to the new brand, as customers today prefer less oily and spicy dishes.
What are the challenges you have faced since you joined the business?
Like any other entrepreneur I too have faced my share of challenges. Political pressure, red-tapism, labour crisis continue to create impediments in the growth trajectory, but I learnt to work hard to remain unfazed and determined in attaining my goals slow and steady.
What is your advice to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Vision, planning, programming, executing and sustaining is the model I prescribe for the aspiring entrepreneurs who I think are privileged to have the advantage of technology and information to do it big in business.