In yet another classic example of fortune favouring the brave, Manav Paul and his wife, Lovely Jagtiani, moved from Mumbai to Goa follow a song in their heart. Their fate beckoned them to Goa where they set foot into an industry which many dream of making it successful in – Food. In an exclusive interview to Holiday Home Times, they reveal how they donned the chef’s cap and cooked up a new recipe for themselves!
Please tell us something about the personal and professional backgrounds of you and your wife.
Lovely has been in the hospitality industry for more than a decade. She has worked in the Middle-east and French Riviera before we got married. I have been with the telecom industry; mostly in the product/ marketing and online space for about a decade and half. I have been working as a product head in these MNCs.
Why did you decide to settle in Goa?
It was always our passion to meet new people and see places. Because Goa witnesses a diverse population, it was in our scheme of things. Settling in Goa was our retirement dream, but the quality of life especially the traffic and the day to day commuting in Mumbai got on to our nerves. So we decided an early move. Glad we did it now. Well, restaurant is not a wise retirement option, because it’s very hectic.
You have opened a restaurant in Goa? What is the name of the restaurant? What is location of your restaurant? Is it in the city centre or near a beach? Do you have a website or any online presence?
The restaurant is called MiX (Bar & Grill) located at Arpora Baga, a small village close to one of Goa’s nightlife centre, but in a quite location where you can find a relaxed atmosphere to enjoy dining or easy live music. Well, we don’t have a website as yet, but we are active on Facebook.
What were your major challenges not being a chef and starting a restaurant. How did you get over these challenges?
I love to cook so it was never a challenge to understand food. The challenge however was to understand the process of commercial cooking. Then there are people who cannot relate to you as you are not from that background and still want to deliver something that has not been explored. Another challenge is finding the right resources. So it was wise to make me that resource. Today with two kitchen assistants, I can deliver about 140 dishes, on time…within a span of two hours. I never knew I was doing it until we counted last month.
At the same time, Lovely is managing the cash/orders and drinks too. Most come here and expect it to be hunky-dory because it’s Goa. The challenge is that it’s Goa. The support structure is not as sophisticated as we expected it to be and many wind up their businesses in 4-6 months. The mantra is to not give up sounds great on paper, but the reality is quite the contrary. One must remember that success rate of restaurants is merely 10 percent. About 80 percent wind up businesses in first year of operation. The rest 10 percent by the second year and the remaining 10 percent somehow make it through.
As an entrepreneur, in order to pursue this dream, what would you advise others to be prepared about? Any tips, financial budgets, etc?
Be sure of what you want to do or offer. Reserve 80 percent of your finances to support operations and 20 percent as setup cost. Be patient and love what you do. Finding a job in this field will help avoid common mistakes for you.
What is living in Goa like? How does it compare to Mumbai?
Goa is not polluted, crowded and no one is in a hurry. People have a life in Goa. In Mumbai, because of the rat race for money, success and competition, we have forgotten to separate our work from our personal life. We are losing out somewhere without realising. I was born in Mumbai, but I cannot handle it, nor do I miss it anymore. Mumbai has lost the plot, its infrastructure and space crunch only seems to be getting worse. Goa has its problems too – it’s getting commercialized. civic issues like garbage disposal, hospitals, education and public transport need focus.
Which part of Goa do you live in? What would you recommend as a place to live for someone who is looking to move to Goa?
I live in Arpora, Baga. It is close to the tourist belt, in a quiet village which is 5 minutes away from the best parties Goa has to offer. If you love to shop, go to movies and have basic city amenities, Panjim is the best bet. If you love the beach, Goa offers aplenty. You can even choose the hills or even river side as your home. It all depends where you want your bedroom windows opening to. Goa offers a lot more than just beaches.
Are there many people you have met like yourself who have left the corporate world to settle in Goa?
There are plenty; more than 50 couples whom I have met. Many CEOs of large companies have their homes in Goa and are now making a gradual retirement move. Many youngsters in their early 30s have their small to medium sized offices running out of Goa.
How cosmopolitan is Goa? Do you feel like an outsider if you are not Goan?
Goa locals are used to foreigners and outsiders for over three decades now. There are many who have settled here. It is more cosmopolitan than many major metros like Chennai or Kolkata. I have to change my ways as a Mumbai immigrant and not expect them to change. It’s not fair. People are warm and welcoming. Kindness and humility work everywhere, just not Goa.
After spending years in the corporate world, what difference do you see between both the lives – as a corporate guy and an entrepreneur?
I was always driven by passion in doing what I want to. Internet caught my attention in 1996. That’s when I started coding htmls which moved into product management. Then I started cooking on weekends. Since I was passion-driven I can’t see the difference between the two except that now with my own venture I don’t seem to switch off from work anymore.
Can you give our other readers a rough idea of what it would cost to buy a place in Goa? What are the land and property laws like? Are they similar to Mumbai or other parts of India?
Land can cost anything from Rs 8,000 a square meters to Rs 80,000. It is advisable to go through a lawyer who can verify the property title and litigations if any. Village Panchayat clearances are important. It is advisable to go through a lawyer who specializes in such matters – even for apartments.
(i) Favourite Bar in Goa
(ii) Favourite nightclub to party the night away
(iii) Signature Drink at the MIX
Fresh kiwi mojito & watermelon margarita
(iv) Signature dish at the MIX
The prime cut 6 week aged beef Steaks
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