24 December 2011

5 tips for the virgin restaurateur

These are things i've come to learn, not necessarily did.

1. Choose your first location with the same attention you would use when you buy your first house*

2. Look after customers like you would welcome guests in your home**

3. Your kitchen and its team is your engine. Dont stick a Ferrari engine into a beat up old shell. And vice versa***

4. Look after your staff like you would if you were an ambitious Indian mother****

5. It is never going to be like you expected it*****

* Take a long hard look at your neighbours. You need to appeal to them as well. Gauge the volume and quality of the footfall at different times of the day, during different seasons. How much work does the site need to bring it up to your requirements?  Dont buy in Chelsea unless you can keep up with the Chelsea set.

** I intentionally said guests not friends. Keep it warm and welcoming, but these are not close friends who are already familiar and comfortable being in your house. So make them comfortable.

*** High maintenance? Insurance costs? Reliability? Are you riding on slow city roads, or do you also want to crank it up for the highway? Think long an hard about the engine driver.

**** Everyday is the eve of the IIT exam. Feed them well. Love them lots but make them study hard. Ever so often you need to wear the pants.

***** The highs are higher and the lows are lower.

26 June 2011


Sam told me to watch Senna. So I did. Its a truly inspiring documentary.

And it struck me that F1 has so many parallels to business. Senna was so successful because he was a great driver. With a great team. Which had a great car. And this great driver, team and car could adapt well to different tracks and different conditions on each of these tracks. In fact they came into their own when the conditions turned rainy and slippery.

And on the odd occassion that they failed, it was because one of the key parts failed. Or they didnt know how to play politics that Prost could. Or they didnt keep up with technology that Benneton pioneered.

Its all about getting everything right. Every day. Every year.

19 June 2011

Finding Mr Miyagi

Business is hard. Yes, you will learn on the job, but sometimes you need the wise counsel of someone who has done it before. Someone who is truly independent and isnt a shareholder or a business partner.

Find yourself a Mr Miyagi.

Happy Fathers Day foks. Give your dad a hug, and seek his counsel.

14 June 2011

Running uphill

When you go for a run, what music do you listen to?

I tend to do most of my running in the hilly terrain of Highgate, so I tend to put together playlists really carefully. I try to mix it up, steady grinders from Chicane and Chemical Brothers help me on the gradual climbs.....

But when I get to really steep climbs, I call on the heavy artillery and forward to real uplifting tracks....infectious energy from the likes of Scooter.

Starting up your own business is like hill running. Some will run straight up the steepest path. They might get to the top in good time, but end up bushed and breathless. And some will speed up and tire themselves out each time they hear a really upbeat song, or each time someone whizzes past them. Some will run along the contours and get there much slower with a bit of gas in the tank, pause for a breath and then take on the next hill.

I dont think there is a right way. To each his own. Just make sure you are armed with the full range of songs so that you can change gears when you need to. And definitely have a great bunch of pacemakers in your team.

Scooter baby.

28 May 2011

Glory Hunters....

I think it is pretty apt to talk about this much maligned term. Glory hunters.

Conjures up images of swarms of people who love winning.

And what is wrong with that?

The spluttering economy needs winners. The economy needs glory hunters. Back a winning concept. Back a winning team.

28 April 2011

The Sandwich

So this week we got nominated by the British Sandwich Association for the award of Independent Sandwich Bar of the Year. It came in the same week that a descendant of the Earl of Sandwich tried to reclaim his legacy.

At first I was thrilled. And then I wasnt. Really, are we just a sandwich bar?

But now i'm thrilled again. Acid Jazz is also Jazz no?

05 April 2011

Letter XX: True love and Randomness

Dear Son

If you are the son I would hope you would be then you will have noticed that this letter is the first with a subject title. These are two important topics I hope to expand on in this letter and others.

True love, your grandmother once said, is "when you have lost your limbs in a car accident and your partner washes your bum after a semi-solid number 2". Admittedly your grandmother was, at the time she told me this, in the thrall of her latest yogi but there is a lot of truth there that I want you to remember. I will not bore you about ditties on love, but I would just tell you to remember two things. First, read the great C19 poet, Ghalib, to understand the true meaning of the idea of love and, in his own life, the dangers of marrying young and being imprisoned. I should add that at the very least if you are hoping to find a bride from the sub-continent (I wonder if they still call it that) then have a copy of Ghalib's book in your pocket, visible to the eyes of the world. This will impress any Asian lady with an interest in history and the mughal era. Second, do not forget that any relationship you have must give you the space for the randomness of life and give you the space to dream. Some people hate this but our family has a tradition of embracing it, which is why I had to divorce your mother (I discussed this in my previous letter).

Randomness and dreaming brings me to a topic I have not touched on in a few letters, mooli's. As I write this you have just left the room for your Latin lesson, and mooli's has gone from strength to strength, with more reviews in the natonal press. Its expansion is imminent. But I wanted to share with you some ideas I had - I am not sure how concrete they are but they represent my current thinking.

I was wondering what makes mooli's mooli's. Or what was it or is it that attracted me to it and its idea. Beyond just the bond of friendships, it was the idea of mooli's. Driven by passion, mooli's was not trying to follow the party line for other food stores. That idea, for me at this moment, is key and must at some level feature in the mooli's story and growth. But how? One way would be to avoid too much standardisation. Why does every branch have to look the same? Why can't an active interest be taken in giving each branch its own personality. This may seem mad but it is not as anti-brand as it may sound. It should be possible to maintain some unity or link to all the shops without sacrificing or giving in to the chain store (even if it is just 3 or 4) mentality affecting other brands. Similarly some of the branding that has been done well must be refreshed and replaced with new ideas - some of the posters are fun, cute and random but the randomness quickly dissipates if it is displayed frequently. At core, one reason why mooli's can continue to lay claim to being a bit different is that it has not succumbed to having a big a menu - the founders should not give in to temptation here. Keeping it simple is the biggest scream that "of course we would like to be profitable but at the same time we have a philosophy of doing a few things well and here they are". Many established and growing brands can't say that.

With this I will leave you for today.



31 March 2011

Well i'm in Mumbai and i'm waiting for the miracle

28 years since we last won the World Cup. and we've really pushed the boat out for this one.

We've assembled a star cast of specials - things that we've been craving. Its looks something like this.

1. Alphonso mangoes. On their ownsome. Because there is no mango in the world like an alphonso mango.

2. Old Monk rum. Thumsup (taste the
thunder). Dash of lime. Because this is the only rum & coke I drank when I was sixteen
in Bangalore.

3. Limca. Because Limca has "isotonic salts to quench your

4. Masala bhoondi raita. Because its nice to pretend like we're having an Indian summer and we need something to cool us down.

5. The haleem (goat) mooli. Because 3/4 of the semi finalists were from the sub-continent.

6. Aloo papdi chaat. Because it is the ultimate street food.

7. Lots of nibbles - spicy peanuts, spicy cashewnuts, chewda, sev, banana chips.

8. Kingfisher. Because we love kingfisher.

The party begins tomorrow (Friday, the 1st of April) at 4pm. If you'd like to munch on moolis while you watch the match at home - call us on 02074949075 and order a mini-mooli platter box. You'll get 15 mini moolis and dipping chutneys.

And definitely stop over after the match. Lets drink the bar dry.

28 February 2011

Horses Running Endlessly

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of visiting the Gabriel Orozco exhibition at the Tate. I thought that one of his installation pieces - "Horses Running Endlessly" was a very good reflection of the quick service restaurant industry at the moment.....a land grab involving the West End, City, Westfield, Canary Wharf, the East, Islington, Kensington.....and back.

"Orozco has created a variant of chess, with four colours of square on a board which is four times as large as normal. This altered game is wholly populated with knights, the only chessmen to move horizontally and vertically in a single move. With no king to capture, the conventional goal of the game has disappeared, leaving the possibility of an infinite circular dance of pieces."

02 February 2011

Why do we do it?

I get asked this question all the time.

"What made you do it???"

Why does someone throw up many years of education, a "good" profession in the City....to start Mooli's. At a fraction of the pay, and six times the hard work and stress.

Because its REAL. Everyday we touch the lives of 400 odd people. We make their lunch breaks a little brighter or we finish off their day with a little bit of sunshine.

"@lovelychaos Oh god I don't want to leave soho and its warm embrace and @moolis"

"@onsomuchfire Thank god for @Moolis. There is nothing a goat and cumin potato roll cannot cure"

"@helenmusic Mmmmmmmmmmmmoolis....!"

"@ndeigman I will never eat anywhere that isn't @moolis ever again as long as I live (or as long as I work in Soho... which ever ends first.)"

"@CharlesGillett Just decided upon waking up hungover, I'm getting a goat @moolis tomorrow. I'm looking forward to it so much, my eyes are bleeding"

Everyday people thank us for their mooli. And that is priceless. That is why we do it. And we now need to reach more people.