Bringing Mumbai's Famous Vada Pav To London, Mumbai Youths Make Rs 4.4 Crore A Year

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| October 5 , 2017 , 13:07 IST

A lost job and joke of not having money for even a vada pav, resulted in massive success for two youths from Mumbai as their vada pav business in London took off, earning them nearly Rs 4.4 crore per annum!

Sujay Sohani from Thane in Mumbai and Subodh Joshi from Wadala met at Bandra's Rizvi College in 1999 when they were studying hotel management, after which they pursued further studies in London and then got jobs in reputed hotels.

"After completing the course, we decided to pursue a post-graduate degree in London. When we finished the course, we got jobs in reputed hotels and were earning well. Everything was fine until the recession hit us," Joshi said to media.

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In 2010, Sohani lost his job at the 5-star hotel where he was working at as a food and beverage manager. Meeting his college friend Joshi, Sohani remarked how he did not even have enough money for a vada pav.

The spark of inspiration struck Sohani a few days later, to sell vada pav in London, and the duo launched their first stall soon after.

They began humbly, by renting two tables from a Polish cafe to set up their stall.

"The cafe wasn't doing great business, so we approached the Polish owner and asked if he would allow us to put up two tables. In return, we promised to pay him a rent of 400 pounds (R35,000) a month. He was reluctant at first, but later agreed," says Sohani.

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Coinciding with India's independence day, on August 15, 2010, Sohani and Joshi opened their stall for public, and within a month their profits went through the roof.

"We first started serving vada pav for 1 pound (R80) and dabeli for 1.50 pounds (R131)," says Sohani.

But the next hurdle was popularising their item, which is a street food staple in Mumbai.

Using a low-cost advertising technique, the Mumbai youths would move around busy streets of Hounslow where their stall was located, and offer to people to try them out for free.

"As burgers were being sold in other shops for nothing less than 5 pounds (R440), we promoted our item as the Indian variant that was available to them for less than half the price at 2 pounds (R175)," Sohani said.

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Six months down the line, the small cafe was no longer sufficient, and they set up another stall.

As their popularity grew, a Punjabi restaurant operating near their stall approached them for a business tie-up.

"We decided to give a shot, and that's how the Shree Krishna Vada Pav stall turned into a restaurant," Sohani said.

Joshi quit his job soon after and began working full time at the restaurant. In 2 years, they opened the second stall, and another one last year and also began taking orders for weddings and parties, supplying 60 Indian street food dishes.  

A total of 7 years later, now they have a total of 35 employees, 3 branches and an annual turnover of roughly Rs 4.40 crores.  

"Today, Indians, Romanians and Polish staff work at our restaurants. And, to imagine that it all started with bad luck and the vada pav," said Sohani.