I have never been in any doubt about the spirit of entrepreneurship among Indians anywhere in the world but was intrigued at the roaring success of one particular eating place on the legendary Grand Trunk Road, very close to Delhi.
Sukhdev Vegetarian Dhaba (restaurant) at Murthal has been such a hit among travellers that there is never an empty seat at any time of the day or night. Such is the attraction for its simple vegetarian fare that customers travel more than a 100 kilometers from Delhi and Ambala to have ‘parothas’ and ‘lassi’ laced with extremely generous helpings of home-made butter, as well as shop at the exclusive crafts village that have been set up within the premises.
A few days ago, when we stopped by and managed to get a seat, I was told food is free for drivers who bring customers to the ‘dhaba’, which I thought, was a very ingenious way to attract crowds. This meant the hundreds of buses that go in each direction on one of Indian’s busiest highways almost always stop by, just because their crew get to eat without paying.
This also is a sure shot way of attracting thousands of hungry travellers who make it a point to eat something. And, since the food is good and the ambiance great, word travels and ‘advertisement’ happens. Result – there is never an empty space!
But that’s not all. It is said the place is ‘managed’ by an Indian entrepreneur in Australia who monitors the entire place from his home Down Under through close-circuit television cameras. Some of his trusted people are, however, on the ground looking at the day-to-day affairs.
Impressive, really. There are several other similar eating place in the immediate vicinity as well as all along the highway but they are all ‘mediocre’, to say the least. Some of them have customers but most attract only a few. None of them, I could see, come anywhere close to Sukhdev.
Its success could be just plain luck or simply good food but I am convinced it’s a combination of both – and, of course, simple business acumen of offering free food to drivers – who come there with busloads of passengers, 24 hours a day!
What an idea, Sirji!