In an interview to Restaurant India, Yogesh Magar, Owner- Wah Marathi shares about starting a 'Marathi' only restaurant.
Though Maharashtrian cuisine is known for its distinctive attributes, but it resonates a lot with the wider Indian cuisine. There are many diners who appreciate the raw traditional food because of its unique taste and presentation. With a vision of offering the traditional Marathi cuisines to the diners, Yogesh Magar launched Wah Marathi.
It all started with offering authentic Maharashtrian food blended with contemporary ambiance and stellar customer service. This was aimed at appealing not only the indigenous people, but non-natives as well. The notion of proposing native dishes to Maharashtrian community was a big task. This restaurant wanted to break away the conventional way of serving Thalis and present the same in a fine dining format. I had always felt the vacuum for eateries. Food being my passion and a core Maharashtrian by birth, I wanted to offer pure and fresh food to the masses, belonging to our own culture away from the rush of fast-foods.
Maharastrian food is so diverse and, much of it remains unexplored. People need to know that Maharashtrian food is beyond vadapaav. We conducted extensive research by visiting distant villages of Maharahstra to explore new dishes and recipes. Our team members learnt so many traditional recipes from elderly people, which has actually added a flavour to our menu and helped us in creating unique flavours. We believe that learning is constant and we continuously strive to evolve our offerings on the table.
The Menu:Designing the menu was the most challenging part. We experimented almost 400 dishes, and it took us at least 4 months to filter them. The challenges were — reducing operational cost, offering better prices and maintaining authentic flavours. All this was to be catered without compromising on quality.
Manpower:While exploring the regional cuisine, the major challenge remains in getting the right manpower. The staff involved in preparation of regional cuisine needs to relate with the offering. We struck the ball right on this, to hit a home run.
Acceptance:Pune is a choppy market. One needs to do thorough research before putting anything on the platter. Offering Marathi food to the locals in fine dining concept was indeed an uphill task, but we succeeded eventually.
Unique Selling Point:Offering Maharashtrian food on à la carte, a model, which was well received by our patrons.
Marketing;Established in the vicinity of one of the biggest IT hubs, Magarpatta Cyber City, Pune, the challenge was to attract not only the locals, but at the same time, the non-Maharashtrians as well, who resided in and around the IT city.
The response has been overwhelming so far, and our fan following has been increasing by the day. People sometimes get nostalgic about the whole experience. They relate it to the home-cooked foods by their mothers and grandmothers. Apart from our guests we have been getting requests to set up more of these restaurants in other cities and abroad as well.
We are very optimistic about the future and wish to play our part in the overall growth and sustenance. Enriched with rich industry experience of more than a decade, Wah Marathi has become a tried and tested brand within a short span of three years. Besides developing our reach in other parts of the country, we have plans to expand within Maharashtra as well. Our kitty will include the Franchised as well as company-owned outlets. As mentioned earlier, we have been getting enquires for franchise models, but will be working cautiously to make every unit, be it franchised or otherwise, a sustainable and successful model.