- The Hustlers
- #4: A restaurant as a side hustle clocking $125k annually
#4: A restaurant as a side hustle clocking $125k annually
Learn how Sunit and Shiva Sharma built a restaurant as a side-hustle
In the bustling Bannerghatta Road area in Bangalore, you will find a small restaurant, Just Delicious serving lip-smacking authentic north Indian dishes. The owners, Shiva and Sunit Sharma have brought their roots from Indore (Madhya Pradesh) in the food they serve there. And you know what is the most exciting fact? It started as a side hustle in December 2020. Crazy, right?
🤩80% repeat customers
👥Staff of 13 people
💰Generating $125K/year of revenue
This Couple started a restaurant as a side hustle making $125K/year
Sunit was working as a Senior Director at Grofers in Gurgaon. He was living with his wife, Shiva, and their two daughters. In April 2020, the COVID pandemic disrupted lives worldwide, and businesses suffered huge losses. Grofers was struck by the same. Sunit was asked to reduce the workforce and have cost-cutting in his department. Letting go of his people without any fault of theirs pained him. Observing his emotional state, his wife asked a question that changed the course of their lives.
“This can happen to you too; what will we do then? We have no alternate source of income.”
This realization hit them both, and they decided to make a change and diversify their income source.
The accidental pilot of the restaurant
As they have always had a corporate job as the only source of income, the first step was to find another source. On their search, they recalled an experience in 2016 that paved the way for "Just Delicious"
In 2016, when they were living in Bangalore, the area they lived, was celebrating the festive season of Durga pooja. Both of them set up a food stall during this season as a fun activity and named it Just Delicious.
At these pandals, the majority of food items are non-vegetarian. But against the odds, they set up a stall for vegetarian food from Indore like masala poori & subzi. The response was crazy. They made sales worth $750 and had many people inquiring about their restaurant.
Remembering the success of their accidental food stall four years back, they were convinced to start a restaurant as their side hustle. It was a perfect mix of they their prior experiences, passion, and validation from an accidental pilot.
Bringing their roots to Bangalore
In the restaurant business, differentiation is the key. Even the "Just Delicious" pilot stall became successful because of the authentic dishes it was selling. The couple hails from Madhya Pradesh and decided that Just Delicious would specialize in the cuisine of Indore. They found their differentiation in their roots.
Sunit being in the FMCG market, was aware of consumer behavior and knew such a business would not get the right audience in Gurgaon. His understanding and experience of the Bangalore market coupled with the success of the pilot food stall gave him the confidence that Bangalore is the right market.
The initial struggle
During the pandemic, Sunit's office had gone entirely remote. It was no longer a mandate for them to stay in Gurgaon. So without wasting time, they decided to move to Bangalore and take the first step to start their business.
They shifted in August, and by September 2020, they started looking for a place for the restaurant premises. But the initial area they were looking at had a very high rental.
After many attempts and days looking for properties, they zeroed down on the current location. It was a perfect place, surrounded by many residential complexes good concentration of the North Indian population. Fortunately, the site also had the initial set of appliances and infrastructure they would need to run their business. After getting all the infrastructure and logistics in place, Just Delicious was finally open to serve on 11th December 2020. Initially, the menu had 18 dishes like curry, masala poori, aloo bonda, and more, which were not readily available in other restaurants.
Being a full-time working mother is not easy and as it was becoming tough, Shiva hired the first two employees to help with cooking and cleaning. At this time, Sunit was managing the operations of the restaurant along with his full-time job.
It was not a smooth sail. They started in a pandemic, so most orders were takeaways or from food delivery apps. They did not spend money on advertisements and the growth was slow. There were even days when they made less than a dollar. And there were months when they could not even cover the rental.
Side hustles allow you to take risks
For about 14 months, the restaurant was making losses, and they were utilizing their savings to keep it running. But they were in it for the long haul and were determined to work hard at it. And they could do this because they had the monthly salary as an income source to sustain their lifestyle needs.
Restaurant is a passion-oriented lifestyle business. It requires you to make changes in your life. You cannot take holidays as those are the significant days. You must also give it time to grow and make space in the crowded market. Both of them were resilient and committed to it from day 1. And today, Just Delicious has reached a $125K/year revenue and is employing 13 people. The menu of Just Delicious has also expanded and a new restaurant was recently opened to serve Chinese food.
Side hustle to a business with a long-term plan
In about 15 years of corporate career, Sunit has achieved many milestones. The success in his corporate career gave him recognition, money, and a good living. Sunit believes that a job is for oneself, while a business is for generations.
The restaurant business he and his wife are creating will even help his daughters in the future to become entrepreneurs. It is already generating some interest in his elder daughter as she's always keen to know how much they made in a day.
They have decided to go all in, and Sunit recently resigned from his job at Grofers. The short-term goal is to reduce online orders to less than 50% and increase the footfall on the premises. And in the long-term, they are looking to open a new outlet and expand to more areas in Bangalore.
Hustlers Insight of the Week
Starting a restaurant as a side hustle is a challenging task. But here are some tips from Sunit on how you can think about your side-hustle
Conviction is the key: You should have great conviction in your idea. Even if people tell you that it won't work, you should be 100% convinced with your reason why it would work.
Execute fast: Many people dream to start their own business but are never able to get started. Don't fall prey to analysis paralysis and be biased towards taking action. Sunit has always been a fast decision maker, and that helped him begin the restaurant too.
If you want to start a restaurant, you need a perfect mix of the right place, product, and price. Have firm determination to keep working at it consistently before you see any results, as the food industry is not easy to start in.
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