Quite recently, we at Team Punekar went ‘ga ga’ over the Goan Fiesta at Café 1730. Not only were we impressed by their drool-worthy food but we were also blown away by their amazing hospitality. So after the gala time we had, we insisted on meeting the owner and got ourselves an interview. Meet Harshendu Giri, the humble man behind Café 1730, as he tells us what it’s really like to run a restaurant. Written it like he told it!
Before we even asked him our first question, he gave us an answer!
The success of Café 1730 goes not only to me but everyone on the team, from the management to the staff and most importantly the visitors. It is their appreciation that makes us successful.
Most important questions first – what does 1730 stand for?
1730 is actually the year the first legal bar license was issued! Also, we liked the number!
How did you come up with Café 1730?
My brother, Jayadeetya Giri, had traveled to Europe and since then wanted to open a European Café. He started Café 1730 near the end of 2010. I started working at the Café to learn and completely took over by 2013. We renovated then; we completely re-did the interiors and extended the menu to make it a multi-cuisine restaurant.
Ah. Was owning a restaurant ever one of your dreams? Did you have an interest?
To be quite frank, I had never given it a thought. Like many other Indian kids, I am from an engineering background with an MBA. Around that time, I was playing Snooker at a national level in Maharashtra and I really wanted a career in athletics. Working at the Café happened at random for something to do, and I ended up loving it.
It’s fascinating! You’re always interacting with new people and there’s always a new challenge to tackle daily. Just like it’s impossible to find a married couple that never quarrels, you can’t run a place without issues cropping up. It’s like a movie, there’s love, there’s drama, there’s passion, and there’s a balance of the three. The best part is, no two days are the same at a restaurant so there’s no room for monotony.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced?
We’ve had our ups and downs. When Café 1730 first started, we didn’t have prior experience in hospitality. We relied on the different suggestions that came to us and implemented pretty much all of them. We had no way of knowing whether they were good or bad. The only thing that taught us the most were our mistakes.
Now I rely on my own knowledge and I make sure that I’m keeping myself updated. I read a lot of books on running a restaurant and cooking. There are also daily challenges in operations and maintenance that take priority to ensure that the product and customer is unaffected. Besides this there are only some challenging customers!
Like what? Tell us! Tell us!
They say the customer is always right, well…
Firstly, serving continental food in India is the greatest challenge in itself, because the Indian palate is not used to it. There are people who send back my aglio olio saying it’s too bland and lacking spices. Then there are those who will go to any extent to save a few bucks like finishing a drink and saying that it never came on the table. Then there are others who will go even beyond that, stealing cutlery; once someone even tried to steal a frame. Finally there are those who are a restaurant’s daily nightmare, the ones who can’t handle their alcohol. We all know how that one goes.
If you had the chance, would you go back, do it over and still pick this over your previous passions?
Without a beat. There are 45 people working here, we’ve seen them grow, get married and start their own families. We too have grown up here. My brother, Jay, had his engagement at the Café. I met my wife at the Café for the first time! We’ve celebrated so many anniversaries, birthdays and special moments here. There’s a certain amount of attachment that comes with it. It’s not just a business, it’s a family.
Wasn’t this just beautiful? *Wipes tears* Sorry, my concluding paragraph has been smudged now. I bid adieu, until next time!
Oh, PS: They’re planning to grow this family a little further, and they’ve got something new coming up, you’ll know soon enough!