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The Bengal flavour of Gurgaon
I still cannot forget the taste of the mouth watering ''Pineapple Sondesh'' I devoured at Sonar Bangla, a Bengali sweet shop cum restaurant in Palam Vihar Gurgaon. Just like the child is lured into toffees and chocolates, this shop pulls you with its sweets, very nicely placed in the showcase. From the famous rosogullas to lip-smacking phuchkaas, everything here is just made to entice people.
With the beautiful Bengali atmosphere, the dim lights, perfect for a romantic evening or the wooden furniture with homely environment, no one can resist this place for sure! The conversation, which I shared with Mr. Sumit Das, the proud owner of Sonar Bangla was as interesting as some of the sweets in the shop.

Question (Q): Is this your first business venture? How did this start?

Answer (A): Yes, this is the very first that time we- my wife Mrs. Meenakshi Das and I, have started a business of our own. You can say, it was my wife?s dream to have a restaurant of our own, which would also spread the Bengali culture. I was an Aircraft Engineer and my wife desired for this restaurant. So finally in 2013, we had the opening of our first restaurant here, Ansal Plaza mall, Gurgaon. The name ''Sonar Bangla'' was suggested by my two lovely daughters.

Q: How supportive is Gurgaon environment to entrepreneurs? When you started out, what were the major roadblocks? How has the journey been till now?
A: 76 percent of our guests are non-bengalis, so you know they really love our fishes. The people here are really nice. Even other shop owners are friendly to us here. Since we do not belong to a business family, we did have funding problems in the beginning. Other than that, there has not been even a single problem. Since we are new, we are learning a lot.

Q: The idea of opening a Bengali sweet shop and then a chain of Bengali restaurants, how difficult it was to formulate in a market where Bengalis are not one of the major segments of the population?
A: We wanted people to know about our culture, we want to spread it. I guess, people now are quite bored with the north-indian, south-indian or Punjabi food. They want a change and what could be better than Bengali food? We have dishes, which no one else has. So people like change and we bring them the change.

Q: Normally a sweet shop does well on a main road in a residential area, but you went for the mall. Was this a strategic move and if yes, what did you wish to accomplish by this move?
A: People come here in search of different food items. They are pleased when they find things they have never tasted before. People walk here in groups. Families ask for something different and we give them many options. We have our own line of regular customers, who visit no other place but this and this makes us feel that we are doing great!

Q: Since you make Bengali sweets with khoya and other ingredients that are not easily available, how profitable is the business turning out for you? Can you tell us about the process of Bengali sweet making, which is followed by your shop?
A: All khoya products should be consumed within three to four days. So it is necessary for us to make the adequate amount of sweets that can be finished within the time. We are planning to introduce some North-Indian sweets to add the flavor.

Q: Isn?t finding skilled manpower an issue?
A: Not at all. All the workers are from our hometown, Kolkatta. They are already trained labourers so we have to face no problems with them. We also have workers from Uttar Pradesh, which help in getting the north-indians sweet upto the mark. We and the labourers share a friendly environment. They have no issues with us and so do we. They are very satisfied with the salaries and everything.

Q: What is the way ahead?
A: We are thinking of expanding our business in Delhi as well since we have received a good response from there. But, we'll take slow and easy steps. After all you cannot achieve success overnight. Can you?

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