[ I was attracted to restaurant business quite early in my life. There is a warm and bright feeling of opening a restaurant that grips men and women of all geographies and times and sometimes, fatally. It is just like one wants to start a business or start a journal. Those who know these businesses generally caution the enthusiast and the in-experienced and they rush because inexperience feeds on its own appetite.]
Regular to Restaurateur’s Friend
For a quite significant part of my early youth, I had my lunch and dinners mostly in the neighborhood restaurants, in almost all cities and towns of Kerala and few in Chennai (then Madras) All were small business and in no time, I was not only a regular customer but a friend close enough to know the inner affairs of the business, chef shortage, long hours, takings not enough, rent increasing etc.
In England, as a student, the tradition continued and I soon became friend of some restaurants from being a regular punter. Many were Sylheti run restaurants and being a Sylheti myself, helped a lot in building rapport. Language and Food – both share something deeper than using tongue as a critical functional organ in both.
In Calcutta, the tradition continued and when I started a Language and Cross-Cultural company from being a salaried telcom-wallah and I made many friends – again of small businesses. Many of the businesses inspired me by their sheer grit and determination while I started Wordsmith Communication.
This is a tribute to Gordon Ramsay’s series on restaurant and hotel businesses – the celebrated chef has one f****g British virtue : a Sherlock Holmes-ian nose for what really happened in the f***g kitchen and his righteous f***g impatience for any pretentiousness, pomposity and idiocies while running a business on the part of the owners. I recommend all business owners to watch the series, not for entertainment but for the benefit of the businesses they own and run. Unlike many f***g consultants, mentors and business advisers that are like algae in the ecosystem, he knows from bottom-up, from being a waiter to a celebrity chef to a very successful restaurant owner and business success of the highest level. Mr. Ramsay, my dear Sir, you are f***g good !
Tribute to a restaurateur of my hometown Silchar and his genius category marketing pitch
I first met late Mr. Ghosh in his home in Birmingham, England, I think some fifteen years back and I became a family friend and a guest. He ran restaurant business in two continents – in Silchar, India and Birmingham, England very successfully through sheer hard work, honesty and with a pleasant, soft-speaking friendly personality.
In course of conversation, he had told me his experience in Gandhi Mela (a fair that happens during Feb-March in Silchar and take or leave a few years, it must be 60+ years old) – he had a chop shop there and to boost sales he had a slogan : “চপের ভিতরে সোনার আংটি” ( “a ring of gold may lie inside the shop you eat”). As soon as he had told this, I remembered having seen that – it will be sometime in the late eighties. I was face to face with the person who designed this brilliant marketing slogan to sell the homely chops. He told, in his soft voice with a shy smile – it was great hit ! Thousands had come and eaten our chop. We sold more than we could have imagined.
When I watched some of the marketing campaigns by Mr. Ramsay in his shows, I remembered this marketing campaign – so winning, devised and executed by a man of my hometown and whose family is my host and kind and generous friend in England, I mumbled in Sylheti : “চপর ভিতরে সুনার আংটি”
Brilliant ! – Simply brilliant. Simple yet such an appeal to the call.
I think this post while read by his sons and daughters and his friends and colleagues will remind them of the story some forty years back.
I thought earlier but now I am convinced that running small business provides provides those, if they are sensible, to have a glimpse of the enigma of very Life which a salaried, however grand or great can never have.