By Japan K Pathak
Give respect to local culture, do change according to it, and have a great business here, is mantra of Gujarat.
In 90s, when Pizza Hut’s first restaurant was launched in Gujarat, it attracted great attention of international media for the fact that it was the only Pizza Hut outlet offering only pure vegetarian pizza in the world. And not only just vegetarian, but there was also a provision of Jain vegetarian(without onion, garlic and potato) pizza, unbelievable for foreign media!
I remember that when McDonald’s was set to launch its first outlet in Gujarat, they took a team of journalists from Gujarat to Mumbai in flight and provided them accommodation in five-star hotel in Juhu. The press persons were taken to McDonald’s outlet’s kitchen to brief them that in McDonald’s, vegetarian and non-vegetarian kitchens were different. This exercise was carried out to convey the typical Gujarati upper class through media that they could visit McDonald’s for vegetarian food without any doubt.
I would love to point out another example here. Ahmedabad’s entrepreneur Narendra Somani never allows non vegetarian food in his hotel Grand Bhagawati. Though Mr. Somani’s hotel on S.G.Highway attends plenty of guests from outside of Gujarat who would like to have non vegetarian food, when it comes to ethics, Narendra Somani keeps even his business aside. Somani is going to introduce a new state-of-the-art five-star hotel in near future in India’s fastest developing city – Surat. But even here, Somani would follow his ethics and therefore the Grand Bhagwati – Surat would be the first pure vegetarian five-star hotel in the world, forget India.
After series of examples let me talk about the latest development in same series that made me to this subject here. Marriott International Inc. has 3300 hotels worldwide, however the Ahmedabad property is the first and one and only that possesses 100% pure vegetarian restaurant. The restaurant has been named as “Shakahari” and it was launched this week(last week of February 2010).
As having a vegetarian restaurant is completely new concept within Marriott group, the people working in Ahmedabad’s Courtyard Marriott worked hard to ensure the best offering in this category.
Cooking shows on Gujarati TV channels(operated from outside Gujarat) never show non-veg recipe because the producers know, a day they start showing non-veg recipe, the viewers would change the channel and never watch the program again. Many companies that don’t involve themselves much in Corporate Social Responsibility area, when come to Gujarat adopt one or other public work. Because service to others is integrate part of Gujarati culture.
For every company, whether in food, entertainment or hospitality or even manufacturing business in Gujarat, the mantra that works here is: Respect local culture, do change accordingly and have a great business here with amazing amount of goodwill. So, Best of luck Grand Bhagawati, and well done Marriott.