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Startup 2016-02-06

Dining at a Portuguese garden

In a tete-a-tete with Restaurant India, Shilpa Sharma, Partner, Mustard shares about her plans to grow the business.

By Deputy Features Editor
Dining at a Portuguese garden

Poonam Singh and Shilpa Sharma have known and worked with each other for over 12 years, and  after successful careers in retail and hospitality, they decided to give shape to a shared passion for food and all things beautiful, by giving shape to Mustard, their maiden F&B venture that introduces a new flavour to savour in Goa. Mustard, in all its forms, is immediately associated with both Bengali and French cuisine.

When East meets West

Set in a refurbished colonial Portuguese abode, through a corridor of colourful potted plants against pastel coloured walls, guests enter an atmosphere of luxe and chic. Sharing space with The Freedom Tree Home store and flourishing in the garden it is vibrant, tasteful and home-grown, much like Freedom Tree.

It’s extremely personalised as a space, the colours are soft and feminine, and there are bookshelves, mirrors and decorative artefacts neatly positioned around an open pantry area that leads to the two separate kitchens. Calling Mustard a restaurant may not do it justice, because it’s so much more than that. It’s a garden, a concept, a cosy refuge, and a magically designed space that can’t help but reveal our deep commitment to excellence.

Overcoming challenges

Challenges of the F&B industry revolve largely around people. Given our commitment to maintaining quality-of our offerings, our  service quality and to delivering an exemplary experience, we need to be on our toes at all times, and ensure our teams are as motivated to delivering a superior experience. It’s the ‘lastmile’ that eventually helps us stay unique as compared to others in the space. Goa is an extremely competitive environment and people are spoilt for choice. Our approach to curation, of French and a Bengali Menu makes us distinctive... we interact with our guests all the time, to figure what works, and what doesn’t and are constantly building on the feedback we receive.

Selling strong on food

We do not have a loyalty program; it’s the strength of our food, which draws our guests back to us over and over again. Our ability to customize menus for special events and celebrations, built on core of our offerings helps. We source fresh ingredients, locally in Goa, and do not shy away from pulling an offering off the Menu if we’ve not been confident of the quality of the cuts (meats/fish). The technology interface we use is what the industry uses, there’s nothing special there.

Believe in fresh, local

Yes we are. Our ingredients are all sourced locally in Goa, except the Bengali spices, which is flown in from Kolkata. We source all our fish and meat locally and grow our own greens and herbs.

Growing strong

We feel there is tremendous amount of potential in the space we have chosen for ourselves, and we know we’d like to do more, with respect to regional cuisines. We’d like for Mustard in Goa to be financially viable, so we can think of extending the concept around other geographies. We’re in no tearing hurry at this moment, wish to grow at a pace that retains the quality we wish to represent and over time there will be opportunities.

We will soon have a Gourmet Food section, where you can savour from a carefully chosen selection of artisanal table foods and more.

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