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The secret of success

Restaurant entrepreneurs give tips on how to survive in Mumbai.

india Updated: Jan 14, 2010 20:12 IST
Naomi Canton

Many restaurants open and close in Mumbai. But the Achwat family has managed to keep it's businesses going, despite having started 21 years ago. Between them, their three restaurants in Shivaji Park, have won more than 100 awards. The latest is the Most Authentic


Food award 2009 for

Diva Maharashtracha

- conferred by

, a food and entertainment website.

Sitting inside its golden Peshwa palace, master chef Deepa Suhas Achwat reveals she spent three years researching


recipes across the state before opening it in 2007. Once opened, she took extensive feedback from customers and refined the menu accordingly. Achwat cuts down on oil, garlic and fat without changing the basic recipes. "People want food that is steamed or grilled - they don't want fried food. We change the recipes but keep the flavours," she says.

"Something healthy and traditional is what people in Mumbai want."The chefs will cook in olive oil, or provide brown rice, if requested, she adds. Besides, the chefs are not expected to be able to create multi-cuisine dishes. "There's no authenticity if they make too many cuisines," she explains.

On weeknights, there's a guitarist and violinist, and at weekends a


and harmonica player. Folk dancers perform during


festivals. She and her husband, Dr Suhas Achwat, a shrink to Bollywood stars, even house the cooks, in small apartments.

"HR is very important. You have to build up a good rapport with your staff and treat them like your family," she says. The couple is also there every day. "No restaurant can work with an absentee landlord. Many people feel that running a restaurant is a lot of glamour, they blow their money on it, then lose interest and spend their time patying," Dr Achwat adds.