India’s restaurant business tests the toughest man’s character. You swim through an ocean of licenses and navigate the rough seas of bureaucracy, till you reach dry land. Dishant Pritamani chased his dream of opening The Daily till he found it on the cosiest corner of Bandra, on the busiest arterial road in Mumbai. He cut out the cons of his favourite bars. He built on the pros, so his patrons have the best drinking experience.
Travel often communicates the best ideas. Dishant quit his job at an IT firm to learn from the experiences of others. His job had managed to make even travel monotonous. So he quit, and gave himself a few months to decide the course his life should take. He began going out with friends. A lot. “I like being the host, and love music, so I wanted to do something on those lines,” he says. Dishant wanted to capture the spirit of a European bar, where people step in to feel better. “I didn’t feel Bombay had this vibe,” he says. One bar in particular stands out in his memory: Delirium Cafe in Brussels. When Dishant visited in 2010, they offered 2010 varietals of beer. “Their menu is bigger than our telephone directory,” he says.
His first test was turning his weakness into strength. With no experience as a restauranteur, and no financial godfathers, he embraced risk. He took on his fears. “I didn’t have a choice of getting it wrong,” he says. “You had to stick your hands in it and deal with what it throws at you.” Distant took a year and two months to go from dreaming to conceiving. He worked tirelessly. And he wasn’t too proud to ask for help. Manav Chadda from Quench advised him to be hands-on and cost conscious. Lakhan Jethani from IBar helped him to get new staff and showed him his kitchen. “They were like my punching bags,” says Dishant.
The Daily has innovated constantly since its patron walked into the bar. They’ve hosted the Fam Jam: a night with quirky movies, a night where artists display their best work and DJs belt out equally inspiring beats. “It was a confluence of different creative people,” says Dishant. Their best idea yet is the “No phone night”. Patrons leave their phones outside before walking into the Daily. It takes their concept of leaving your day behind to its most logical conclusionThe Daily is committed to great cocktails and cold beers but above all it’s a unique experience.
The Daily is now an extended family of strangers who’ve become best friends. The Daily is home. “We have kept the people who love the place close to us. We have stuck to the smaller things and focused on that... We have made it comfortable for them and it is going to be what they want,” he says. They haven’t just retained their loyal customers. They welcome back their favourite artists. The Daily Shindig is one of the maddest club nights in Mumbai. “DJs love playing here,” says Dishant. “They feel connected to the people who are there to listen to their music.”
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