While travelling across India for work-related activities, I happened to eat Litti-Chokha in Patna for the first time at the age of 33. Waiting at the airport, I wondered how it would be if I served this beautiful, regional dish to diners in south Mumbai in the luxury of an air-conditioner, valet parking, couch seating and a happy ambience. A little later, after boarding the flight, I wondered, how nice it would be if I gave Litti-Choka, along with Sattu ka sherbet and other Bihari cuisines under one roof to patrons in Mumbai. Shortly before landing, I wondered, how nice it would be if I gave not just Bihari but regional specialities of all 28 states (Back then, Telangana was not born) of our great country under one roof and thus, the idea of ‘29’ was born on 17th April 2015.
Tell us about your journey to become an entrepreneur?
I am a Bachelors of Engineering with an Honours title from Germany. Subsequently, I worked with a company called Procter & Gamble (P&G) for four and a half years. After quitting my job, I returned to India to join my family run enterprise that is of exports to African countries. While I would travel work-related, the idea of ‘29’ occurred, which I have today conceptualized and realized in ‘29’.
What are the different types of cuisines served at your restaurant?
29 serves the regional recipes of all 29-states of our country. We emphasize on the word ‘regional’ because even though we have 29 states in India, within some of these states, there is a culinary divide. The best example would be Uttar Pradesh, within Uttar Pradesh, there is the Awadhi palette, which is more into Tikkas, Kebabs, Seekhs, etc. However, when you come towards Kanpuri palette or rest of U.P, it’s more about Pulavs, Biryanis, Yakhni preparations, etc. We strive to bring all of this under one roof to our patrons.
Who are your target customers? Do you feel any competition from your competitors?
The target customer for 29 is each patron who wishes to try Indian food beyond Paneer Tikka, Butter Masala and Daal Makhani. No, we are still relatively new.
What are the design elements you kept in mind while designing the restaurants?
Since 29 is offering the secret ‘homely’ recipes from across the regions of India, we have kept the feel of the restaurant very familiar and homely. We have used basic colours of white/off-white, with a dash of pastel colours along the walls. Also, the seating is a mix of couch and chair seating’s. Precisely, what you would find at any household.
How do you see social media as a marketing medium?
Certainly it is a very strong medium. You may love it, you may hate it, but social media marketing is definitely a medium that you cannot ignore. It is here to stay!
What is your expansion plan?
Being a relatively new concept-based-restaurant, we wish to take baby-steps. Eventually, it is all about sustenance. At 29, we wish to attract our patrons with innovative regional specialities from nooks and corner of the country and broaden our customer base, before we can actually execute a worthy and successful expansion plan. However, I must add, expansion should not be at the cost of food-quality, food-taste or shortcoming in the management quality to the diners.