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    Food business not as rosy as it looks, say Monkey Bar and Fatty Bao entrepreneurs


    In three years, the duo - Chetan Rampal and his business partner — Chef Manu Chandra - has opened five outlets across Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru.

    In three years, the duo - Chetan Rampal and his business partner — Chef Manu Chandra - has opened five outlets across Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru.
    The inadvertent fallout of owning restaurants is that often when the world is having a good time, you are hard at work. Chetan Rampal, the entrepreneur behind such popular gastropubs Monkey Bar and Fatty Bao, which opened an outlet in Mumbai last month, says, "When everyone else is partying, we are working. Even when you're out, we look at new places with business eyes."

    But Rampal and his business partner — Chef Manu Chandra — can't complain too much. In three years, the duo has opened five outlets across Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru. Rampal and Chandra spoke to ETPanache about getting into the business of food and what makes them tick.

    How hard is it to give up a well-positioned job to follow your dreams?

    Chandra: (Laughs) It gets to a point where you realise you are actually adept and capable of doing this yourself and then it is time to move on. We were nervous because when you put in everything that you save and go into debt, it can be quite unnerving. But our experience and confidence helped us break through that layer of apprehension.

    What's the dynamic between the both of you?

    Chandra: If there was a bully between us, it's me (laughs). Our dynamic is good since we met at work 10 years ago.

    Rampal: We work hand-in-hand. We are both committed to the product. We have no personal agenda, so that's why we don't fight.

    From your experience, what are the most important things to remember when anyone starts out in the food and hospitality business?

    Rampal: Every day you learn something new. You should be open to that. Location is also important. Understand what works for the space you have.

    Chandra: Having a sound financial strategy is important. You're in it to make money. If you're saying you're in it for anything else, you're wrong. People skills are necessary. You need to retain good people.

    What advice would you give to a new generation of people who want to start a restaurant?

    Rampal: (Laughs) Don't start. It looks rosy on the outside but passion is not everything. It's not an easy space, especially with the authorities. There are a lot of hidden costs you don't see. My advice: Be a good customer and have fun.

    Chandra: I just got some advice yesterday that I would like to share. At some point you're going to realise that you aren't doing enough of what you love and why you choose to be in the business. Though it doesn't apply to me now, it will apply at some point. It's a feeling I want to avoid before I get to that stage.

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