Today, a Restaurant Bhupinder Mroke established in the year 2000, is among the top three Restaurants in North Vancouver. His is the only Indian Cuisine Restaurant among the top three. An Indian kid from a Pind (Village) in Punjab, is hobnobbing and rubbing shoulders with the mega hospitality corporations. He is in good company. You look at the number one and number two Restaurants in North Vancouver and then you see the number three (it fluctuates from day to day) Indian Cuisine Restaurant among 300 plus.
By Jeet Singh
Imagine a kid coming to Canada in his teens; literally no money in his pocket; practically no education and could hardly speak any English and yet this kid is able to create one of the best Restaurants in North Vancouver, BC.
Today, a Restaurant he established in the year 2000, is among the top three Restaurants in North Vancouver. His is the only Indian Cuisine Restaurant among the top three. An Indian kid from a Pind (Village) in Punjab, is hobnobbing and rubbing shoulders with the mega hospitality corporations. He is in good company. You look at the number one and number two Restaurants in North Vancouver and then you see the number three (it fluctuates from day to day) Indian Cuisine Restaurant among 300 plus Restaurants, you cannot but be impressed and inspired. It is an amazing accomplishment.
I am talking about none other than Bhupinder Mroke, CEO of Palki. The man behind Palki-Best Indian Cuisine’s huge success.
Over the years, Palki has won some fifteen awards and recognitions including the winner in the category of favourite Indian Restaurant by the readers of North Shore News multiple times, winner of the Best of the North Shore by North Shore Outlook many times, and winner of the Readers Choice Platinum Winner by North Shore News.
Bhupinder knows Restaurant ground up.
I was privileged to study his restaurant and his management style. I really wanted to find out what makes him so motivated and so dedicated. Even after eighteen years, Bhupinder still comes to his Restaurant as if today is his first day. His kind of devotion is rare. But I also wanted to know what his secret of success is; what tips can he give to the new Restaurateurs?
So, I sat down with him for a Q&A.
Jeet: Before I ask you about your history, I am just too anxious to know the secret of your success. If you have to name just one thing, what will it be?
Bhupinder: Sheer hard work.
Jeet: Fair enough. But there has to be more than just hard work?
Bhupinder: I think everyone has their own qualities, habits, and attributes that lead to their success. In my case, I think it is my dedication. Somewhere along the way, I realized that Palki is more than just a business to me. It is my passion. It is my pride. I started looking at it as my duty to serve the best food with the best customer service. I owe that to my diners. I just take my responsibility very seriously.
Jeet: Yes, I see that Palki has been at the same location since the year 2000 and second generations of your diners are now coming over to dine. You must be doing something right.
Bhupinder: Well, “Right” for me means that first of all the food has to be great. Then it has to have consistency – good one day and not so good the other day does not work. Add good service and good ambiance to that and you have somewhat of a recipe for a successful Restaurant.
Jeet: You say “Somewhat” of a recipe. Is there more to it?
Bhupinder: Yes, there is a lot more to it.
Jeet: That’s what the readers would really like to know. Your take on what it takes to run a successful Restaurant.
Bhupinder: There are so many factors that go into making a Restaurant successful.
Jeet: Can you name a few, like five or six tips for running a successful Restaurant?
Bhupinder: If I have to name a few, it will have to be location, great food with consistency and originality, costing and pricing, ambiance, great service, use of technology, and low overhead.
Jeet: Let’s go back to how did you get into the Restaurant business?
Bhupinder: After I moved to Canada, somehow I found a job as a Busser in a restaurant.
Jeet: You mean that was the only job you qualified for.
Bhupinder: (Laughs) True! I was in my teens. I was thrilled to get a job. Little did I know at that time that one day I will go into the Restaurant business myself.
Jeet: What did you do after that job?
Bhupinder: Then I got a job in a Nursery as a helper and as a delivery person. But I still worked in the Restaurant in the evenings.
Jeet: What came next?
Bhupinder: I found out there was a Restaurant available in Calgary. I and my brother joined together and bought it.
Jeet: And rest was history as they say it? Right?
Bhupinder: Very true. I never looked back after that day.
Jeet: Was Indian food as popular then as it is now?
Bhupinder: Not even close.
Jeet: Was it an uphill battle for you starting a new Restaurant?
Bhupinder: Yes, it certainly was.
Jeet: Did you ever want to give up or waivered?
Bhupinder: Never. After the first year of owning my first restaurant, I knew I was going to be good at it.
Jeet: But there must have been times when you had an uphill battle?
Bhupinder: Of-course. I was young, ambitious, aggressive and too confident. I ended up owning a big Restaurant. Fixed expenses were too high. I barely survived but was able to sell it eventually.
Jeet: Interesting! So what will be your advice to new restaurateurs in that regards?
Bhupinder: Don’t bite more than you can chew. (Laughs).
Jeet: Anything else?
Bhupinder:Don’t go into Restaurant business unless you know and have handled every aspect of Restaurant operation. When you have done every chore in the Restaurant only then you can appreciate what is involved.
Jeet: Great advice! How many Restaurants would you say you have opened since then?
Bhupinder: I think eight or so.
Jeet: Would you consider opening more Palki’s?
Bhupinder: No. I will rather run one Palki the best than run ten Palki’s marginally.
Jeet: What about franchising Palki?
Bhupinder: I will consider that.
Jeet Singh is a writer and food lover. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org