Two young men from Bihar established an outlet to cater to people who miss the food they grew up eating. They seem to have carved a niche in Vasco and are looking at expanding their business. AJIT JOHN met Nikhil Jha and Mitul Bhardawaj and spoke about their plans for ‘The Food Track’
Food is very good business. Many people have tried to set up businesses that cater to the palates of the general public and failed miserably. Perhaps because the food was poor in quality or more importantly the numbers just did not add up. In Vasco two young men have decided to carve out a niche by serving a cuisine that is not generally available in the State.
Nikhil Jha and Mitul Bhardawaj completed their hotel management course and were undertaking training at the Dept of Tourism and Civil Aviation in Simla. Running a restaurant was the furthest thing on their mind. A contact based in Singapore changed their outlook dramatically. A skype interview resulted in the two leaving for that Lion City to gain experience. They worked at the Bachmann Japanese hotel for six months and then moved to another property for another six months. On their return to India they worked at the Bogmalo Beach Resort and handled the front office and F&B at the cottage for two years.
Like any working professional to shift to running your business can mean a dramatic shift. One has to also consider the fact that in their family, no one ever conducted business. They were focussed on joining the administrative services or being an academic. And yes, doing well at it.
Goa attracts people from all over the country and the world. And yes, many of them also miss the food they grew up eating. There are several residents in Goa who are from Bihar and certainly miss their cuisine. For the two young men it was a visit to Delhi that prompted a move to doing something themselves.
Bhardawaj said “We visited Delhi and went over to the Haldiram store. We witnessed the operations and the system involved in packaging food. Met the manager and discussed the operation in detail. We returned to Goa and met people in Verna, the airport and the navy many of whom are north Indian. We also spoke to officers in banks and gauged demand.”
The duo set up The Food Track with an operation base in Dabolim where they prepared the food and packaged it. They had staff to distribute the food and many times they would do it themselves. Like any businessmen interested in doing well and growing, one of them would visit the client’s office to gauge their reaction.
Bhardawaj said “Our customers are busy when they order their food and will not have the time to give a proper well though out answer. Remember the airport staff has half an hour allocated for lunch. I try to meet them on Saturday or Nikhil will and they are then able to give a good proper feedback. It certainly helps us.”
The duo has like any smart businessmen launched products that are not found in Goa. They introduced the Gujarati fast food Dabeli which caught on very fast. Now the people love the egg roll paratha, paneer roll, veg roll. Goans visit them now in large numbers to partake of their offering. Now north Indian delicacies like Dahi Bhalla, Aloo tikki Chaat are now very popular. The samosa which is prepared without onion and garlic has a very different taste which has quite a fan following. They have also created something called Chapatti noodles which is proving to be popular too.
The signed a contract with Don Bosco in Vasco to provide snacks to 200 children and the Aero Public school in MES colony. It is all about proper co-ordination. Both the partners are involved in the kitchen though when it comes to marketing the product, the more outgoing Nikhil Jha is a natural.
Growth is the secret behind any business. The duo intends to expand their business and intend to come to Panjim sometime either in 2019 or 2020. They are focused on setting up an outlet at the bus stand. Later on, they intend to spread all over the State but they prefer to slow and sold and build a brand name.
They intend to move to a bigger facility in Vasco a step away from where they are present right now whilst keeping the existing facility. They take orders for birthday parties but their responsibility ends at delivering the food to the party. They just don’t have the staff to get involved in the after sales service at parties.
The growth has been impressive for the duo who shifted to the facility six months ago and had started from a house taking orders on the phone and Whatsapp. As Jha said “Our parents can’t seem to believe we are doing this and they gave us a year to prove our worth which is more than enough time. We are happy doing this and we are on our way.”