Tell us something about life story?
Well! My story is actually a story. It starts when I went to states in late 60s to study architecture but switched to hospitality due to some financial constraints. That switch actually determined the following course of my life when I opted for the subject of hospitality as my major. Upon my return to Pakistan in 1983, I did my first hospitality partnership project Ménage in Lahore. That was the first time when I introduced the culture of interior designing in a fine dining restaurant here in Pakistan. After that, I introduced Café Zouk with Thai and American cuisines that has now made its mark as an iconic restaurant. My some other projects are New York Café, Karachi, Zouk, Karachi, 1 Potato 2 Potato, Lahore, Gun Smoke, Lahore, China Town Restaurant, Faisalabad, Copper Kettle, Islamabad, UNO Chicago Grill, Lahore and Nirala Sweets, Dubai. After coming back to Pakistan, I resumed my interior designing lust as well that I had to surrender earlier.
What is the connection between hospitality and interior designing?
Dining is not going to a restaurant, eating lavishly and coming back. Going to a restaurant is like a mood creation for yourself. I believe that ambiance changes your mindset towards your food. So, if you want your customers to enjoy their visit to your place, give them a place worth sitting for hours.
What is the motive behind establishing Lahore Restaurants Association (LRA)?
LRA is basically an initiative to get all on one platform for the attainment of their rights. It is purely dedicated to the well-being of the restaurants here in Lahore. LRA is the voice of restaurants’ owners and staff. In future, we are planning to connect it with Pakistan Restaurants Association. Further, LRA also plays its role in ensuring professionalism at restaurants. In short, it’s a platform where we can learn from one another.
How do you see the future of restaurants in Pakistan?
The future of restaurants is going to fly. A lot of space is out there in the market to come up with an idea. If somebody is educated and trained in this field, he/she can get its share for sure
What are the essentials to make a restaurant successful?
It’s not money that can bring you success in this field. The idea of opening a restaurant has become a little more scientific now. It’s a combo of education, training and function. Without proper education and hands-on training, the chances of shutdown are 90%.
What is the role of marketing in restaurant industry?
Marketing is the backbone of this industry. You can be the best but if somebody doesn’t know about that it doesn’t mean anything.
What’s your take on government’s policy on tourism?
I don’t think renting government’s buildings is tourism in any way. It needs mechanics that we are not prepared for. Tourism is they come for one day and stay for three. From lodging to security, everything is tourism.
How do you see COTHM playing its role in the fields of tourism and hospitality?
COTHM is doing a great job indeed. I am glad that somebody is working for the good of this industry. Hospitality education and practical training should be made mandatory to all the new comers in this field.
What would be your suggestions for young aspirants in this field?
Train yourself mentally and physically before coming to this field. Shy, timid and nervous people should not open a restaurant. You need to be aggressive to play multidimensional in this field.
Any message for the readers?
Let me tell you that hospitality is going to be the largest industry very soon. Join up and do something for your country.