Ashish Sajnani, Director of Opa Hospitality, is also founder of several ventures, such as Bombay Food Truck, Le Café and Via Bombay, to name a few. He was recently featured in Lonely Planet’s coffee-table-book, Around The World In 80 Food Trucks, featuring food trucks around the world that serve delicious food on the go! They have featured some of the best recipes from chéfs across the world, along with the recipe of Bombay Food Truck’s Keema Pav, with a snippet on Ashish, as well as images of the food trucks. There are only three food trucks in all of Asia featured, including Bombay Food Truck, which is the only food truck from India to be featured. Team Optimist spoke to Ashish Sajnani on his journey in the restaurant business.
Team Optimist: How did the Bombay Food Truck (BFT) idea strike you? How is it different from others?
Ashish Sajnani: The idea of BFT came to me after launching four restaurants, when I was craving for a new passion project that would travel with me, since I love travelling, especially on road trips. The movie, Chéf, inspired me to go ahead and make a food truck. As a student, I’d also seen them in such cities as New York and they always fascinated me.
Team Optimist: Is there any change in the restaurant business in India? What’s been the overall picture till now?
Ashish Sajnani: The restaurant business has one of the highest mortality rates with very high overhead expenses and aggregators squeezing the restaurant for heavy discounts. It employs a large chunk of the skilled and semi-skilled work force.
Team Optimist: You’ve already launched three new restaurant concepts. How do you go ahead with the projects? Do you customize your approach for different ventures?
Ashish Sajnani: Yes it’s a constant learning and analysing process. What works and what doesn’t, which you then correct, learn and improvise upon.
Team Optimist: Is hospitality management a lucrative career option? What’s your advice to the younger generation who want to explore this segment?
Ashish Sajnani: I always ask youngsters to take a course at IHM for better prospects in this industry. Work hard, stay humble and don’t look at the hours. It’s also not as glamorous as it looks like from the outside.
Team Optimist: Having a passion for cars, do you think there’s a lack of awareness in this regard? What is the ideal approach for patrons to promote this?
Ashish Sajnani: Travelling by road was something I did a lot with my parents, because my father liked to drive. So cars and travel have been a very important part of my life and my field of work. I also love classic cars and Jeeps and enjoy collecting them.
Team Optimist: Often, it’s said that entrepreneurship in India isn’t easy at all. Do you believe this? What’s been your experience over the years?
Ashish Sajnani: Nothing’s easy! But I’d rather be the boss of my own struggle than work for someone else.