This is neither a ‘story’ as stories are told about past incidents nor am I a storyteller. This is about a dream, a dream being lived every second of our lives.
India is growing from being a service provider nation to a startup nation and with the whole world being bullish about India, it would have been foolish not to be a part of this culture change. This thought of being an entrepreneur never existed in my mind till I did my MBA in 2013. Not that MBA helped me in any way to nurture such thoughts but I always had in mind to never sit idle and accept the flow of life. If some path seems correct, I would go on for some time till I completely change the course and try new things. Enrich your experience of lives and live many lives in one is my way. Similar thoughts were harbouring in two of my cousins parallely just to cross our paths at some later stage. Also, quality of life in India is quite substandard as compared to what one can probably live in USA or Europe so it gives you substantial push to get your own hands dirty and help bring it to some standard. There is so much of chaos to be corrected here. Hence, the thought of entering into something to bring a change. Believe me guys, this was the only thought and I was not sure how would I be able to contribute. Anyways, life was moving on and my job with a leading private bank took me to Hyderabad in Jan 2014.
Now, Hyderabad was coming out, of being just declared as joint capital of AP and Telangana after a long fought battle of division of AP into two states. There was a renewed energy in Hyderabad and it was like a war within to bring back global investments back to Hyderabad. Everyday you would hear government closing some deal or other with global biggies. Overall sentiment was improving and change was visible. Having lived in Hyderabad for two years was more than enough time to envisage that food was the calling and this would be the place for your launch. Couple of hard tries and third time we three brothers cum partners were able to start what today is trending.
Oct '15, we got our firm registered under the name "Gobsmack Foods" which is a British slang for 'Being Amazed' and by April '16 we had started the brand under making called "Norfest - The Dhaba" from scratch. Now, its important to focus on what we are than how we started. To talk about food retail industry, I see a lot of traction happening in India from the past 5 - 6 years in bringing in new concepts on the block. And when I say new concepts, these are actually fresh ideas which millennials are trying and not some copy paste foreign model. Chayos or Imly (disclaimer: am not associated with these in anyway) for example, are completely brilliant, home-grown concepts. However, when it comes to the food industry, I believe there is a lot of scope to improve the service standards, food quality, cuisine, hospitality, concepts, hygiene levels etc. Keeping all this in mind we started outlining our concepts on our drawing board and got fixated on two words - FUSION and GOBSMACK. Fusion is the key and Gobsmack is what we had to justify our firms name. The whole idea was to create something on these grounds and take it to the global level after letting people know back here that India also has potential to produce probable Subways or McDonalds or some Indian grown global brand in food and beverages industry.
Its fusion in many ways, we picked up the very popular North Indian cuisine and re-created a modern dhaba in an upmarket mall right in the middle of the city. So its a fusion of the very popular dhaba culture of Sind and Punjab region (traditionally placed on highways) in city malls to cater to non-travelling crowd. In fact, we have tried to pick up finer points of a traditional dhaba such as handi look from where we serve food directly to customers. We have tried to give a dhaba look by using lightings, raw outlook, television playing punjabi video songs and all. One needs to be at place to actually feel the punch :p.
We have also let customers take a look at the kitchen by making it a see-through kitchen. Thats why we call it yet another example of fusion to let customers meet the kitchen and our chefs. A very important and secret part of any restaurant anywhere in the world is its kitchen and we have exposed it all. This is primarily to instill high level of confidence in our customers, assuring them of the hygiene level we maintain apart from providing authentic food as promised. We believe that consumers deserve to eat the best.
Yet another example of fusion we have tried to imbibe is to fuse quality with prices. Traditionally, we have seen that food selling price goes up as you tend to build control on hygiene levels as it involves lot of costs. We have worked on that too and one of the important philosophy we maintain is to reduce this gap to a point that is favourable to both the end users as well as service providers. We want to provide our food at hygiene level what people deserve and at prices what they desire.
And while we were busy in creating fusions, we realized that all this will actually gobsmack people.
Its been a straight two months since we opened to public, following a few food trials and iterations in our model. We are evolving day by day and do not want to rush up things to capture numbers. I believe numbers do not matter in front of customers reviews. If we are unable to satiate a few, the whole purpose would fail.
It has only been due to our crazy, loving foodies that today we stand where we are. A sincere thanks to all our customers (and future customers) for accepting us and we hope to continue with our dream to take this home-grown brand to a global level and make Indians proud. Till then enjoy your meal and cheers from Norfest team.
PS: Check us out on Zomato for live reviews and Facebook for live updates by the name "Norfest - The Dhaba".