An interview with Sanjay Mukherjee, Owner, Kolkata Callin\\\'
They say ‘you are what you eat’ and the adage fits well for the Kolkata Callin’ founder-Sanjay Mukherjee. A desperate craving for home-food has inspired the entrepreneur to think of Kolkata Callin’-a fine dining restaurant in Mumbai serving authentic Bengali food among other meals.
Congratulations on completing your first month of running Kolkata Callin'! How has been the experience of serving Bengali food in Mumbai? How much satisfying is the response?
Thank you so much. The first month was an extremely satisfying experience with hard work and full involvement to establish our first restaurant concept. It is really good to see Bengalis love their food and culture so much. We had a gala time serving our customers during our Poila Boishakh (Bengali New Year). We had a weeklong event that started from 15th April till 20th April’14, and we have received very satisfying response.
Apart from craving for authentic Kolkata food in Mumbai, what other elements worked for you to think of Kolkata Callin'?
The craving is a valid point. We all Bengalis who are away from Kolkata have a strong craving for authentic Bengali food and we have a strong nostalgia for our motherland. These were the reasons enough for me to think of Kolkata -Callin’. The idea behind creating Kolkata Callin’ in Mumbai was to bring a slice of life from Kolkata to Mumbai and to ensure that we Bengalis have a little home away from home. And I’m proud to say that my guests second that. We wanted to bring different aspects of ‘Kolkata Culture’ to Mumbai.
In Kolkata, there is a local custom where groups of people get-together to eat, meet and greet at a rendezvous point called “adda”. Thus, the idea behind launching Kolkata Callin’ is to bring such attributes of Kolkata culture to Mumbai by creating a warm and cozy place where people would love to come and sit, chat and enjoy food. We also ensure that there is something new for customers every season, be it New Year or any other special event in the year!
What was the initial investment required to set up your venture in Mumbai and how did you manage that funding?
Generally for any start-up specialty restaurant, taking into account all the fixed and variable investments, it would approximately be between Rs 50 lakh and Rs 1 crore. Our Mumbai outlet of Kolkata Callin' has just opened a month back (in March 2014), so we are still in the process of evaluating our exact figures, since investments are an ongoing process for a restaurant even after its opening.
Who come to your place? Who are the target group for Kolkata Callin' in Mumbai?
Primarily, Bengalis. But if you ask me honestly, the target group is anyone who has a liking and a taste for Bengali cuisine or someone who wants to try the cuisine. People in Mumbai are generally very open to trying out new cuisines. We welcome one and all. And hence, even in our menu you will find a spread of North Indian and Tandoor items, just in case of someone come to Kolkata Callin’ and doesn’t want to try a new cultural food. We don’t want the customer to be disheartened and go empty stomach at any cost.
What inspired you to decide the menu designing?
The designing is based upon the time zones of both the cities. Mumbai is a fast paced city, rugged and hardworking, whereas Kolkata is a slow paced city, tranquil, a lot of food choice, and they have a culture where they take a lot of time out to meet each other, chat and enjoy food.
We managed to create a menu that has a mix of both the cities. Our menu consists of a plethora of items, starting from a detailed Bengali menu to North Indian and Tandoor as well. Our guests go through the menu in detail; all the items are written with their detailed captions on taste, look and ingredients. We take the extra effort to explain our guests exactly what they have ordered or would be interested in ordering.
About the Menu:
Kolkata Callin’ serves an array of mouth watering dishes that truly represent the east land. The spread includes gravies – chicken, mutton, prawns and fish, Kolkata style biryanis, variety of street food snacks like rolls, cutlets, chops and mughlais, desserts like the Paayesh (Bengali Kheer), and various unique Kolkata style vegetarian preparations. The la carte menu is an assortment of vegetarian and non-vegetarian starters, main course and desserts. Other than Bengali dishes, the restaurant also offers variety in Indian, Tandoor and selected Chinese preparations. The chef also delights the customers with a “Chef Special Menu”.
How do you keep the typical taste of Bengali food intact in your serving? Are the cooking staffs brought from Kolkata or they are trained to cook such typical dishes?
Bengali food generally has a typical combination of being - sweet, tangy and spicy, intriguing the eater and making him relish the mouth watering food with joy. Right from the smallest ingredient to our produces, it all comes from Kolkata. Even our restaurant’s Chefs are from Kolkata. This helps in the achievement of the typical taste of Bengali food items and maintains the same authentic taste.
How do you source products like banana blossoms & fish?
We have a list of about 5-6 vendors, who get us all the ingredients we need from Kolkata. And that is the only reason, why we are able to bring on table absolutely fresh and authentic products and preparations for our guests.
Do you have any plan to tie up with online food serving portal?
Web provides detailed information. Today, all businesses are dependant directly or indirectly on the Internet. Our clients are technologically savvy and so we are present in some of portals which are the best names in the industry including portals dealing in providing information of restaurants online.
As of now what are your marketing strategies?
It’s too early to disclose any of these strategies. But we are extremely pleased with the kind of response that we have got so far. And our guests are extremely pleased and happy having discovered Kolkata Callin. We believe brand successes happen because of customer satisfactions and repeat value. Our baby step number 1 is to ensure customer satisfactions and their wholesome experience. If we are able to satisfy one customer, the numbers will naturally multiply through word of mouth, good publicity and the goodwill gained from our customers.
What are your plans for next two years?
We would want to grow steadily. Hence, after establishing Andheri East as a hub, we would focus on expansion. City wise also, we would first cater to Mumbai and then look at expanding in other cities.