Spreading the authentic cultural Bohri cuisine, Kaka Kaki, located in Santa Cruz, Mumbai, is a unique eatery that not only brings good food to the plate, but also serves as a spark of inspiration. Team Optimist spoke to Hozef Darukhanawala, the owner of Kaka Kaki. And here’s what he said…
Team Optimist: What was your idea when you launched Kaka Kaki, the one-stop eatery for authentic Bohri cuisine?
Hozef Darukhanawala: Honestly, there was no idea. I love food and I love to cook for others, too. I’m a banker by profession and I own an NBFC, Money Masters Pvt. Ltd, but have always loved food and cooking. In my early years, I used to own a MAFCO stall. I’d go and cater to it after my day job at Bombay Mercantile Bank. In all of my 63 years, food has always been an integral part.
In 2015, as an experiment, I entered into the hospitality industry. I was managing a resort along with my NBFC in Panchgani and cooked Bohri food for all the guests there. They simply loved it! I slowly realized how unexplored this cuisine was in the mainstream restaurant business. That was when I began my kitchen and, later, ventured into the café business. I want to make Bohri food — our unique samosas and white sauce patties — to be available at every street corner and accessible to everyone without an appointment or booking.
Currently, we deliver all across Mumbai and plan to open multiple branches and franchises to increase our reach and availability.
Team Optimist: Do you curate specific menus for each day of the week? How’s it different from other traditional cuisines?
Hozef Darukhanawala: We want our patrons to taste all the gems in the Bohri cuisine, so we have a rotating menu, which changes every day. This practice helps our patrons get a larger variety, and us to reduce wastage.
Certain dishes, such as kharas, are fixed items. You will always find chicken cutlets, white sauce patties, mystic kebabs and so on over the counter.
Team Optimist: How’s the feedback on Kaka Kaki? Are millennials aware of this restaurant that brings heritage, legacy and lip-smacking food — all at the same place?
Hozef Darukhanawala: The feedback has been great. Our patrons enjoy our food. We believe in serving what we, ourselves, would love to have, in terms of taste and quality.
We have a loyal customer base. Once you experience food at Kaka Kaki, you’re bound to fall in love with it.
Team Optimist: What’s your advice to young entrepreneurs? What should their thumb rule be for success in the long run?
Hozef Darukhanawala: One should be sure of what one’s selling and be confident of one’s product. Also, have a sustainable long-term plan in place. There are no short-cuts in business.
Team Optimist: In this era of app ratings and food bloggers, do you think authentic food is getting lost in the glam?
Hozef Darukhanawala: While there’s a rage in the F&B industry about experimenting with food, such as gastronomical dishes, fusion dishes and so forth, at the same time, there’s a strong movement towards quintessential cuisines. To be able to experience and eat what the locals of a region eat is what people are eyeing.
While app ratings and bloggers are making brands more accessible and increasing their reach, good and authentic food will always be able to outshine the barriers of technology, because word of mouth is still the most-relied-upon form of review and referral to create recall value and recognition for any brand. So, most of our consumers have been referred to by our existing patrons.
Team Optimist: Being specially abled and yet the ultimate changemakers, what’s been the biggest motivation for success in your life?
Hozef Darukhanawala: My biggest motivation has always been my never-ending love affair with food since childhood. Although I come from a finance and banking background, I’ve always experimented with food and enjoyed playing host to people. So, after working in the banking sector for 40 years, I decided to pursue my one true love, Bohri food, and opened an authentic restaurant.
Team Optimist: Do you have an expansion plan for Kaka Kaki? Where do you want to see it in the near future?
Hozef Darukhanawala: Expansion is definitely on the cards. We plan to have at least 10 franchises in the near future. We’re always on the lookout for passionate partners who understand food as we do.