Vada Pav is very famous in Mumbai. You get it everywhere and the price is only 10 rupees. Many people take the whole day out after eating vada pav. Two friends from Mumbai also used to eat vada pav every day while studying in college. The most expense from pocket money was on vada pav. Then both of them went to London to study. They got a good job there but used to miss Vada-Pav with tea like Mumbai.
When the 2009 recession hit, one of these friends lost his job. This became the only opportunity for him to start the business of Vada Pav in London. Today both of them own 5 restaurants in the UK and the annual turnover has reached 1.5 million pounds (about 14 million rupees). We talked to both of them to know their success stories.
Story of Sujay Sohani and Subodh Joshi…
Both of us have been friends for the last 25 years. It is 1999, when we were studying at Mumbai’s Rizvi College. From there he was pursuing graduation in Hotel Management. After three years of study, he made a plan to do PG in Hotel Management. Gave many entrance exams. We got admission in a UK university. Our course was 18 months, 9 months internship. In 2003, the two got an internship offer together.
The company liked our work very much and they also offered us jobs and extended the visa period. The job was going well. Both were growing at their respective levels. The position of Supervisor and Assistant Manager was also found. But due to the slowdown in 2009, Sujay’s job was lost. During our stay in London, we both often missed Mumbai-based Vada Pav.
There was a lot of desire to drink boiled tea but could not get it. When Sujay lost his job job, then we planned why the two should not start Vada Pav’s business here. But, we did not have many savings nor any property. Our home loans were running. Therefore, it was decided that Subodh would continue to work and Sujay would be fully engaged in business.
A 6 month deposit is required to be taken from a good place shop rental in London. Agreement is in place. There are many other types of expenses. We did not have so much capital. We were looking for a place that could be found cheaply. While searching, we found a café in Poland.
We asked him for a small place in the cafe itself. Didn’t expect that he would give, but he agreed. He provided us a small space for the kitchen and also gave permission to use one, two table-chairs in the cafe.
We made a plan that Sujay would be here from morning and Subodh would come after 4 pm after his shift. We started making vada pav and tea from the kitchen of seven by seven. Now the problem was to tell people how to get vada pav and boiled tea.
So we thought to get people tested. One of us used to stand on the main road and we used to keep four pieces of vada pav. People who got out of there used to get the Vada Pav test done for free and told that here is our shop, you can do the test.
Then we came up with the idea that the way Banda gives tea delivery to every shop in India, similarly we start here, because no one in London gave such delivery of tea. We used to go for the delivery of tea and also bring orders of Vada Pav.
We distributed our numbers at the shops that whenever you feel like drinking tea or want to eat vada pav, you just call us and we will give you the delivery at the shop. We started this work in the entire area around the shop.
Our tea idea became a hit. Tea also started selling a lot and orders for Vada Pav were also available. Customers started coming to us immediately. The situation became such that all the customers in the cafe were our own. Due to this, where earlier we were paying 400 pounds of rent, later it increased to 1500 pounds.
We stayed there from August 2010 to January. Then that shop was sold. Then we shifted to another place. The fare there was two thousand pounds, but now our customer base was formed. People around him started to know. Subodh then quit the job and both of them started working full time. One looked after the kitchen and the other managed the restaurant.
Our wives and some office colleagues also joined us after leaving the job. Subodh’s wife helped the kitchen immensely. In 2011, we took a bigger place on rent. The situation had become such that the police started coming to us to inquire why there is such a crowd here. The reason we got crowded here was that Vada Pav was very cheap, nothing was so cheap in London.
There was boiled tea which was not found anywhere else. Along with this, we had started selling many other items too, such as Meesal Pav, Pavbhaji, Bhajia, Samosa. We used to make everything in Indian style only, so even people liked our test there.
Then catering orders started coming to us. There were no small orders in London, but we also used to order 30 to 50 party parties. The work grew so much that we started outsourcing some things. Gradually, in the new area, we started opening the branch of Sri Krishna Vada Pav. By 2017, there were four branches. Now there are five brands.
As the branch grew, so did our menu items. Even after the lockdown, we have started another new branch in August itself. Many institutions have honored, because in such times we are offering jobs there. We never compromised on test and quality.
This is the reason that many people started seeing Vada Pav after seeing us, but could not get any success. Both are directors in the company. Employing 40 people. Now working on making the brand international. There are many countries where Indians still cannot find their favorite food. We will extend our branch to those countries.