We are soon planning to focus on opening quick-service restaurants: Hari Kotian, Partner, DP Fast Food

In an in-depth conversation with Good Newwws, Hari Kotian, Partner, DP Fast Food, spoke about the legacy of the restaurant, it's current standing, further plan of action and much more.

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Serving people good food is a wonderful legacy to leave behind and that's what the proprietors of DP Fast Food believe in. For one of the partners Hari Kotian, this has been a family heirloom, a legacy from history. From taking over a small Udipi restaurant called Shree Durga Parmeshwari Bhuvan to rebranding and making it popular street food corner DPs in Central Mumbai, Kotian has propelled it all.

In an in-depth conversation with Good Newwws, Hari Kotian, Partner, DP Fast Food, spoke about the legacy of the restaurant, it's current standing, further plan of action and much more.

Sharing the history of DP Fast Food, Hari said, "DP Fast Food was Shree Durga Parmeshwari Bhuvan, it had a board written in Kannada in the 60s and 70s on one side, on another side it was in Marathi. I took over the place in 1985 when I was in 12th grade. My father died when I was 14, so the responsibility fell on my lap prematurely. By the late 80s, we had done quite a bit of change and by '89 I passed out of the catering institute. Then I experimented with a lot of things, I started with an ice cream counter outside. The ice cream counter started doing more business than the Udipi restaurant. In the next one and a half years, we switched from Shree Durga Parmeshwari Bhuvan to DPs. Both my brothers also agreed to this and we became more focused on what the customer wants."

"Later revenue started generating at a fast pace, from 20 employees we moved to 45 employees, we were also doing on-site catering for weddings, for events and all that. So in the mid-90s, we saw dramatic growth. In that period I also did many other things related to mind management and mindfulness. Over a while, we moved to 150 employees", the partner added. 

Hari Kotian conducts personality development training sessions and has been a part of Landmark since 1992. He believes that such training alters your view of looking at things. He has conducted courses in the US, Australia, Thailand, Korea, Iran. He got a lot of exposure and he used all of that in selling Pav Bhaji, South Indian food and Chinese food. 

In the year 2008, they opened a Chinese food brand called 'Wok Hei' in DP Fast Food. Talking about the same, the entrepreneur mentioned, "We upgraded the quality of Chinese to a fine dine quality Chinese in a Udipi restaurant with Thai curries and other such stuff. Just looking at the response that we got, we created a brand called 'Wok Hei', then we opened in Lower Parel, Prabhadevi and Ghatkopar. We had one franchise in Pune as well but amid COVID times it closed down. Currently, only the Ghatkopar franchise survives amid COVID. We might open more franchises later but right now it's time to stay low."

Elaborating further about surviving amid Coronavirus, Hari stated, "From 150 we have come down to about 75 with all the units. Migrant labourers are still resisting coming back, some of them have come and all the training that we had done with them fizzled out. The entire world is dealing with that. I'm not the only one. However, we have started working afresh.

Adding further he said, "The COVID is hitting the hull of every business, actually our business of food and beverage is of comfort food like people need to drink in trouble times people also need to eat, our business is doing better than other businesses, at least some money is coming in. But the impact is huge daily, the trained people that we had many of them have not come and maybe they’ll never come back and the turnovers have dropped at least by 250% what it was. We kept on giving discounts and unlimited offers in the best possible way. That’s how we adjusted and kept calibrating every 15 days. Whatever was possible we have transferred the best benefit to the customer and tried to increase the turnover in the best possible way."

Apart from running the restaurant favourably during the lockdown, DPs also extended their support in helping out the society. They installed a few community refrigerators in Matunga, Chembur, Dadar and 50 other locations in the city. They also distributed oxygen concentrators for free which was arranged by an NGO. DPs also organised blood donation campaigns. Not only this Maharashtra cabinet minister Varsha Gaikwad had felicitated them for distributing free meals in collaboration with the NGO Ratna Niddhi during COVID-19. 

Describing the entire scenario, Kotian averred, "I think in the last one and a half year personally as a human being I have experienced that I have grown."

On being asked about 'Taste of DP' aka USP, Hari averred, "So there are quite a few things that I want to point out. Firstly we are known for our Pav Bhaji, we also bagged the best Pav Bhaji award from the Times of India in 2015. Then our Masala Pav and fruit beer are very much popular amongst college students as it is a unique combination. In 2008 when we upgraded the Chinese quality, there was nobody who was serving the Thai paste that was homemade. This is a kind of Thai curry that gets sold in a fine dining place, so getting that quality at a street corner restaurant was unheard of at that time. So these were the unique things. Our dosas, of course, being a South Indian Udipi restaurant, Sambar was great anyway."

Finally, talking about the plans and current trends, Hari Kotian asserted, "We just try to be sensitive to the young crowd, fine-tune to whatever is happening in contemporary times, then innovate new things accordingly. At present, the next thing on the card is sandwiches. We are also bringing in a few Italian things before the colleges open. We will be on with that."

Sharing the final words, he said, "For DPs the further plan of action will be focusing on making smaller units like quick-service restaurants."