Our Indian culture is so diverse and traditional that there is hardly any festivity well celebrated without sweets and mithai. They are the crowning glory in every festival, immaterial of the state or regions. Sweets, mithai, snacks, namkeen are the integral part and parcel of any celebration be it weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, festivals and much more. The smile and sweetness that follows with the gift boxes we give to our close friends and relatives adds up to the significance of the exchanging well wishes on various occasions.
In India, there are many renowned and famous sweet makers, but one such name has bloomed in BHOPAL and that is: Manohar Dairy & Restaurant.
On 15th April 1970, Manohar Dairy and Restaurant, known for its excellence and superiority in quality came up with its first outlet on Hamidia Road aiming to sell dairy products. Already dealing in supply of milk and milk products in M.P, Manohar Dairy gradually shifted towards restaurant and sweet business.
The journey dates back to 1970, where a dream to start a Dairy & Restaurant business was materialized by well-respected Late Shyam Sunder Harwani. His vision was to see Bhopal’s name on the Food map of Madhya Pradesh in bright words. In a short while the dream matured to become the most cherished and most loved sweet shop and restaurant the town ever heard of.
Very soon the year 1978 saw the sad demise of Mr Shyam Sunder Harwani. The legacy of Manohar Dairy and Restaurant was passed on to his sons Manohar and Murli Harwani. They proved themselves to be genius in the business of sweets and snacks in Bhopal. The outlet gained publicity as it started offering vast varieties of contemporary dishes by their chefs which left a mouth watering and a lasting impact on tastebuds.
Initially Manohar Dairy started with the sitting capacity of 30 seats but with the gradual and steady growth it expanded its capacity to 180 seats. With a striking 46 years of rigorous struggle and hardship, Manohar Dairy strive every day to stay true to the promise of serving scrumptious recipes of Indian and International dishes and desserts at surprising pricing.
Agronfoodprocessing.com had a rare opportunity to converse with Murli Harwani, Director, Manohar Dairy. We bring forth for our readers the most influential coverage of the interview we had with him.
Presently, Manohar Dairy being the most favourite outlet in Bhopal, please share the history behind it. When, where and how did you started and have reached this echelon?
My father Shyam Sunder Harwani after the partition of India and Pakistan came to Indore. Searching somewhere to start with, found a very old hospital building and decided to open a small tea stall. Today, this small tea stall stands as the pillar of hardship and success that my father built. From here very slowly and calculatedly he gained momentum and opened a restaurant in the name of “Bombay Restaurant”. This established, he started a dairy centre. This dairy business gave a recognition and success and concurrently he kept expanding it. At that time Bhopal city faced milk shortage. Thinking over it, my father planned of doing milk business in Bhopal too as it would be beneficial as well as profitable. Hence he bought another place in Bhopal and installed a milk chilling centre, started ghee business too. But basically he started with dairy as prime a business.
Of which era are we talking about?
This episode dates back to 1970-1971. Initially it was only dairy as the sole business. Later he thought why not venture into hotel business too!! This made him buy the neighbouring areas that were available and those kick started off smoothly and efficiently, thus the name Manohar Dairy & Restaurant came into existence. In due course of time, dairy business diminished and restaurant flourished leaps and bound. But still the banner carries the name of Manohar Dairy & Restaurant though as of today we don’t have any business related to dairy.
At what position Manohar Dairy stands today? Where can we see your other outlets?
We have three outlets in Bhopal. One which is the oldest, is at Amiriya Road. The little one (250-300 sq ft) is in new market. We have one posh outlet which is in MP Nagar with a sitting capacity of 190 seats plus a banquet hall for small get-together. Our mission is to make every occasion extra special for our customers by taking care of the special needs and offering a wide range of products.
Future plans are of opening another outlet in Chuna Bhatti which again is in a posh area, the outlet is under construction. With few other properties, we are gradually coming up with new ventures. In Govindpura Industrial area, we have built up with complete hygiene a centralized kitchen and probably that’s the reason why we have come to expand our market.
Bhopal carries your name with a big signboard and a reason of connectivity between you and Bhopal. In your vision, is this because of attraction of the products and their “slurpcious” taste? Which are your fast moving products making you popular there?
It is not that we are recognized for one particular product in Bhopal. During preparation of sweets our focus is on zero wastage. Keeping control over excess production, we do not prepare too many varieties. Following a principle of making everything fresh, we make and remake at regular intervals probably 2 to 3 times in a day. With a zest “Let’s make the mithai fresh even if we have to make it again and again let’s do it”. I think that’s one of the reasons adding to our popularity. Also, providing high quality brand products helps to win the trust of all our clientele and consumers which facilitate us reaching every home and corporate level through our wide product range, and provide value for money to all our clients.
How many types of mithais and products can one see in your shops?
You name them and you will find them on our shelves: Bengali sweets, Kaaju Katri, Mawa mithai, Sweets made in pure ghee, namkeen of all sorts and other ‘n’ number of sweets, mithai and namkeen.
Established by your father, furthered by you and your brother, in coming years how have you planned to hand over this business to the next generation? What changes can be seen post joining you?
Absolutely no hassle with them as they are all educated in MBA field. The exposure they are getting on practical grounds has added a lot of on-hand knowledge to them. In fact, they have helped us to streamline many tasks systematically. Since then we surely are on the right path to see our work taking proper shape. We are trying to relax and watch the work happening smoothly. This procedure will help us to focus our attention on other fields of development. Previously we were all-in-one, means we ourselves were managers, supervisors, quality manager, admin manager, HR manager, purchase manager, owners etc etc…
After kids have joined us, there has been segregation of work and divided teams handling respective department. In coming period it will become easier to tackle the business with various development that are shaping the business because right now we are seeing progress in individual field of admin, HR, purchase, quality. Working in different team-wise, kids are in learning process. Gradually all these sections will merge into one single management. Discussing labour part in business, it is very difficult in Bhopal to find skilled staff as we find good staff joining metro cities jobs. This is one major reason why we grew our children in that manner where they are getting training on floor, and side by side we too are learning with them and from them. So in way we are getting educated plus growing together!!
Coming to the crucial point of the shelf life of your products, how do you control this criteria, what technology have you invested in or are you still using manual mode ?
We have not adopted any new technology as such. Sometimes, we do think of adding preservatives in our products but we are indecisive between yes and no. Right now we are focusing only on freshness of our preparation. We make products according to their shelf-lives, make only that is consumed within short time. If it gets over we make it again, in the end of the day there should not be any leftovers. The shelf-life of sweets and mithai lasts only upto 2-3 days which are accordingly.
A visit to your Govindpura factory gave us an insight to a spic n span kitchen, indicating your total attention on cleanliness and hygiene. Do you think that hygienically prepared products win hearts of consumers and that’s the key to gain the trust of the consumers?
Yes, very much. When your products (especially eatables) are made in a controlled environment and hygienically prepared, it gives you an immense confidence no matter how big or how small your business is. If we are operating in such environment we can call upon our consumers and show them the way we make our products with full confidence and win their trust. This deep confidence help us to enhance customers experience, loyalty towards the customer and satisfaction by bridging a strong connection by making up to their expectations.
In contemporary period sky is the limit in mithai and namkeen industry and there is a tremendous growth in this sector. Very region and state has its own speciality. You definitely must going on a visit to places, meeting people, trying and exchanging new products and ideas among your circle, how does this approach benefits you?
We are very lucky on these grounds. We have a very good repo with our co-related businessmen from MP & Maharashtra having similar businesses. We have a very good tie-up with them. Periodically we have get together on common grounds to share experiences, know-how, try to solve problems and difficulties. If one goes to attend any exhibition, he share brochures and other materials with all of us. So we keep ourselves updated amongst us. Sometimes we sit together over a new product and discuss to establish a new brand in the market. It’s like an extended family working towards a common goal in congenially manner.