Last we checked, Nini’s Kitchen was a growing venture. Today, it is one of the most loved and renowned food joints of Ahmedabad.
For Ankit Gupta and Navneet Gill, who run Nini’s Kitchen, customers are of utmost importance, their feedback even more so, and it is this attempt at catering to the customers’ needs that makes Nini’s Kitchen the friendly place that it is. However, owning a restaurant is not all that it’s cracked up to be; it may seem glamorous, but, as Ankit Gupta and Navneet Gill discovered, it comes with its own set of obstacles.
Hailing from backgrounds as different as night and day, Ankit and Navneet were united by something they both loved – food. While Navneet teaches at the Bopal Dental College, Ankit comes from a family with a strong background in the textile industry. However, their joint passion for food encouraged them to invest in it, and that is how ‘Nini’s Kitchen’ was born.
“Our restaurant was known as Rollacosta earlier, which was actually a franchise we had bought. However, over time, we realized that it was fake, as what was promised to us was not delivered. We had no prior experience in the food industry. We were just amateurs, so we thought – why not bring something up of our own? Since both our backgrounds were different, we hardly had any time to spare. Therefore, we thought of bringing this together,” says Ankit.
Navneet adds, “It was a do-or-die situation for us. We had worked hard for Rollacosta and it was rated 4.5/5 on Zomato. So we knew that we have to be on that level.”
Of course, they are both of the shared opinion that starting a restaurant in Ahmedabad is not easy. Says Ankit – “It may look glamorous, but it isn’t. When we started making our own brand, it took nearly three trial months to blossom! Training staff, developing the menu, hiring, and all the other stuff took a toll on us. Each time we fell – and fall we did – we picked ourselves up. So it was a great learning process.”
Deciding a menu was one of the challenges they faced. “Nini’s Kitchen is named after my mom Nini. All the North Indian recipes are hers, with an added twist to suit customer tastes,” explains Ankit.
What makes it an extraordinary delight is the freshness and hygiene they maintain: “In terms of food, there’s nothing extraordinary in what we serve. However, we make it point to make everything fresh. Nothing is repeated – not the gravies, not the batter. This too, posed a big hurdle for us. Not all of our staff agreed to this; they used to take names of bigwigs and say – ‘vahan par sab aisa hi hota hai.’ I had to train them not to think that way. We had to explain our concept of consistency, freshness, and hygiene.”
The lovely couple that they are, they personally took notice of the slightest details themselves and incorporated them in their restaurant. Ankit blushes and recalls their courtship days: “We used to hang out at various cafes and restaurant. We found out that no one thinks from customer’s point of view. You will be having your desserts and they serve you the bill. We ensure we do not do that.” Navneet pitches in – “We make sure that we are there to listen to all our customers’ feedback. If someone is feeling hot, we will ask him or her to take another seat even if we have to ask others to wait. I had to train my staff into that service too. We ask them not to give the bill until they are asked for it. For us, customer feedback is very important!”
Not all that glitters is gold, and Ankit and Navneet learned this the hard way. When they made their intentions of starting a restaurant, the first reaction was one of surprise, and they wanted to know why they want to do this. Navneet says, “They thought we had gone mad wondering why we wanted to start a restaurant!” Ankit takes it further by sharing, “My family asked me to do something new in the textile industry itself. However, that is not what I wanted to do. My friends thought that since I come from a rich family, my parents would have given me the money. But that was not the case.”
They faced some more hurdles before Nini’s Kitchen became a household name. “Like we said, we thought it would be glamorous; we thought we’d bring cooks, the staff and will have a waiting line immediately. But that was not the case. On the day of opening, our friends and family were there. However, come the next day – not a single soul. And it was hard for us, because we had to throw away whatever we had cooked. It was hard as we had to pay the bills, rent, and salaries,” Ankit says.
“It was difficult to garner customers. But slowly and steadily, we reached where we had aimed for. That is what keeps us humble; we were not sure that there would be people waiting, so we had not brought waiting chairs. However, once a lady came and asked for a waiting chair and I was totally shocked! I could not reply and was smiling strangely. I was elated! Somehow we managed but this is one incident we can never forget,” concludes Navneet.
Some of their well-known dishes include Veg. Sharwan, Paneer Makhani, Bharwan Mushroom, and Hot Chocolate. They believe that people who are regulars at their place are the biggest gifts they could ever ask for. With no plans of further expansion, you can find Nini’s Kitchen shining right where they are now.
Bringing you independent, solution-oriented and well-researched stories takes us hundreds of hours each month, and years of skill-training that went behind. If our stories have inspired you or helped you in some way, please consider becoming our Supporter.