In an exclusive interaction with Restaurant India, Manika Jagdish Pahwa, Owner, Wood Box Café talks about how she amalgamated her interior designing skills with the café she is running successfully.
It was a very random idea which came to my mind. I was sitting in the market where there was nothing worth trying while I was craving for good food. Soon I got an opportunity to open up a café at the same location where some of the cafes were already doing very well. That is how I came up with the idea of opening my café. The prime idea behind opening a café was to showcase our interior designing skills to the people. Initially, I planned it to be a side business but later I decided otherwise. The venture requires full attention in the initial stage without which it will fail to stand.
I come from a business family. After completing my education, I worked with many interior designing and construction start-ups which later made me enter into the food business. It has been four years since I joined the F&B industry and we already have opened four cafes and are planning to expand more with time. It has surely not been an easy ride in the beginning as I was not aware of how this industry works. I and my team had to learn from everywhere whether it was the situation or even our chefs. I tried to establish a good team which can serve to the guests providing them with great experiences. I got into limelight with the Wood Box Café which was the initial one out of all the three brands I have.
Wood Box Café is probably the only cafe in India which is using recycled beer cut bottles and vodka cut bottles and glasses. It was an idea which came from my younger brother which eventually worked for us. With the concept being fresh in the market, it became our USP with time which attracted and welcomed many customers to our door. Earlier it was just to save money which later became our USP as mentioned earlier. We are serving our shakes and Heineken in cut bottles or corona glasses thereby grabbing people’s attention. Our whole interiors are in a wood format. From the palate to the tables everything resembles wood at our café which is another uniqueness of us. We recently launched pizza in the jar at the ‘Horn Ok’ festival which is being loved by the people.
The graph goes up and down very often because it is an extremely competitive market and we cannot afford to compromise on the quality of our products.
Competition is one followed by operational challenges like managing the whole team together is a few challenges that I face. There is no off day in the restaurant business so maintaining it on a daily basis is very important. I personally consider competition as the major challenge. I do value my competitors as there is a lot to learn from everywhere. It is a necessity to take challenges in a healthy manner otherwise it can lead to the brand’s failure.
Currently, I am in talking terms with people over Chandigarh. I got to know that people there are fond of our café so we are planning to extend our reach there for now. I want to open some pop-up shops of our café like Wood Box Café on the go. I would really like to open an outlet at the airport as well.