The one who falls and gets up is much stronger than the one who never fell. Here is a saga of a young chef-cum-entrepreneur, who made it big in culinary business, starting from scratch.
In 2007, Chef Ashish had to come back India, leaving his studies in UK behind because of the sudden demise of his father. Ashish had to leave his dream behind and focus on family responsibilities. With an aim to support his grieving family financially, the young guy took franchise of an Indian restaurant which didn’t work wonders for him, instead made him bear huge losses. He had to sacrifice his house to recover the losses.
Dreams vanished and shoulders burdened with big family responsibilities, Ashish decided to seek help from a childhood friend Dr. Sumit, who not only understood his situation, but also backed him inside out. With a meagre amount of Rs. 7000 in hand, that too lent by his only support Sumit, the chef once again opened a kiosk in Ambala and started serving Lebanese cuisine to the foodie Punjabies which was a new cuisine in the region. And, as they say, where there is a will, there is a way. Fortunately, Ashish got selected in reality TV show Masterchef India season 4 and rest is history.
When and what made you enter into the food business?
I started my first restaurant in 2013 before I participated in Master chef from a small town Ambala which is my home town. When we started it was just a small kiosk. We were the first restaurant serving Lebanese. We were also doing Burger and Sandwiches at Ambala to attract customers because for them Lebanese was not known. After few months we were a hit and we got a place at the mall itself. I participated at Masterchef and I was among top four finalists. After coming back I planned Gurgaon along with my friends.
What is the total investment you put in to start this brand?
We invested around 24 lakh to start the outlet and in just two months we expanded the outlet investing another 10 lakh.
Who is your partner in the business?
We are five friends who are my partners in the venture. We thought to give a try and within two months we realised that we need more space to expand the restaurant. Currently, we are at 4.5 rating at Zomato. We are getting good customers review.
How is the response so far?
The response is very good and we are one of the top restaurants in Gurgaon as per reviews. We have a varied customer base and delivery orders. Every week we are seeing 25 per cent rise in the customer base.
Who are your target customers?
We are not targeting any particular group. Every person who is a foodie, willing to try new food and cuisines is our target.
How varied is your product categories?
We have got very limited menu- Shawarma, Falafel, Paneer roll and platters which starts from Rs 100 and goes up to Rs 500. We have also got our specialised drinks and we don’t serve any drink or soft drinks from the market.
From where did you source the raw materials?
We are sourcing everything from the local markets. We make our own sauces.
How often do you experiment with menus?
We will add some new products in our menu this June since it’s been six months since we launched our outlet. I am planning to come up with something from Soya. Also, I am planning to come up with healthy breads. I am trying to cater to people who are wheat allergic.
How are you marketing yourself?
So far we have not done any advertisement. It is all customer recommendations.
What about expansion?
We are working on franchisee model. Every day we are getting 3 calls for franchisee. But we want to focus on our food. We want to make a strong hold on it and then want to expand. We are looking for Delhi-NCR next year and then we will go pan India.