DREAM FEAT – Arpita SinhaPosted: November 6, 2014
This week, we’re changing our weekly interview series from ‘Featured Entrepreneur’ to ‘Dream Feat’. Featured dreamers who made their entrepreneurial dreams come true. So for our first ‘Dream Feat’ interviewee, is Arpita Sinha, who started ‘Chakum Chakum, an ‘oh so good’ Calcutta-style rolls restaurant. We loved the food, so we wanted to learn more, how Arpita started the restaurant and her inspirations.
DREAM:IN: How did you get into food industry and how did you get the idea of starting a restaurant?
Arpita: The answer to the question may sound very cliché but it is true. I am a foodie and when my husband and I got transferred to Bangalore 7 years back, I was missing my daily dose of Calcutta street food. And Kathi roll is big in Calcutta. There were a few kathi roll joints in and around but they were certainly not up to the mark in terms of flavours what we are used to back in Calcutta. And the perception of Kathi roll in Bangalore at that point in time was ‘oily, greasy junk food’!!! So we saw the opportunity to churn out Tasty yet Healthy kathi rolls with authentic Kolkata flavours. And that’s how Chakum Chukum was born.
DREAM:IN: What are some of the toughest challenges that you overcame since starting this restaurant? Would you say the restaurant/food business is a tough industry to get in?
Arpita: The biggest challenge was to make people aware of my place with out any advertising budget. So I would jump off my car near the traffic signal and distribute pamphlets and jump back once the signal turned green. But I was sure that if people get the taste of my product they will definitely come back.
The second challenge was to manage customer perception. It is a merciless business and you are only as good as your last meal. And that also answers your second question. You have to be consistent day after day every day. Which meant training my staff to be consistent in what they do.
The third challenge was to retain talent. So we had to work out a very meticulous plan in terms of retaining and nurturing talent within the organisation.
Also getting a dependable/reliable team of vendors in Bangalore was very, very tough.
DREAM:IN: Wow! That’s an awesome guerrilla marketing technique. Talk about dedication! What techniques did you use to first market your restaurant and get people to order from you?
Arpita: In fact, there was no marketing apart from me personally knocking on every office door in and around Chakum and leaving a menu behind. Once people came, they brought their friends and family. It was the “word of mouth” which did the trick.
DREAM:IN: Again, the dedication, amazing.
DREAM:IN: Currently, how many branches do you own, and do you have any future plans of expanding to more?
Arpita: Only one as of now. Expansion plans are always there. Every night we go off to sleep thinking we will open our second outlet tomorrow. But it is easier said than done.
DREAM:IN: Personally, what is your favourite type of food, or your favourite dish to eat?
Arpita: Bread Ice-cream:))
DREAM:IN: What or who has been your biggest inspiration? Or your favorite chef?
Arpita: I don’t know about inspiration but my biggest support have been my Dad and my husband who have always believed in whatever I did!!!!
DREAM:IN: In what way do you discover new foods or new recipes? Do you like to experiment while cooking?
Arpita: I travel a lot to new destinations and try new cuisine – specially local ones. That I think is the best way to discover new stuff.
DREAM:IN: What’s the background to all the items on your menu?
Arpita: Some are traditional rolls which I grew up eat ing in Calcutta. The rest we have designed, keeping in mind, the local palate. For instance, we were the first to introduce the ‘wheat’ rolls along with ‘egg white’ option. Sometimes, even people coming from Calcutta get surprised seeing the number of options we have in our menu.
DREAM:IN: Do you enjoy owning a restaurant and starting your venture? What’s the most liberating thing about being your own boss? What’s the most liberating thing about being your own boss? Would you go back and do it differently if you could
Arpita: Yes yes yes! While there is pressure at work, we don’t bring work back home, unlike other professions and I know that very well since my husband was in advertising. Also ‘food’ is a great way to connect with people. And lastly, the recognition that you get when you are in a public place, is great!
I don’t know the most liberating thing but what gives me immense pleasure as an entrepreneur is the fact that I have given employment to people and I have been able to take care of them well!
I can’t think of doing anything different.
DREAM:IN: Would you like to give the address so that people can come and try your great food?
Arpita: CHAKUM CHUKUM, 901/2, 4th Cross, 7th Main, HAL 2nd Stage, Indiranagar, Bangalore 560038.
Call 080 42115536 for home delivery.
DREAM:IN: Lastly, we ask every entrepreneur, what tips and words of wisdom do you have for budding entrepreneurs who are just starting out?
Arpita: Believe in your dreams but be sure where you want to go.
DREAM:IN: Thanks so much Arpita, we will definitely be back to try some rolls again soon! Thank you for your time, see you soon!