Oye Kake and Taftoon Bar & Kitchen
Owner, restaurateur, and marketer amongst several others, Pankaj Gupta, Owner of Oye Kake and Taftoon Bar & Kitchen, has donned several hats in the past decade. With two successful restaurant brands, he has surely proven that Mumbai is indeed the city of dreams if you dare to dream big. A foodie at heart, Pankaj’s biggest inspiration for flavours came from watching his own mother in the kitchen and the flavours she brought to the table. Following several failed attempts at breaking an egg to make himself breakfast as a young boy, Pankaj realized that cooking involved more than just tossing ingredients together in a pan. After graduating with a degree in Retail and Marketing, he was offered a role at a leading bank in 2011, which he politely declined. Instead, he took time off to travel back to the city of Amritsar which had given him several fond memories of the past.
A trip that was meant to be just for a few days, lasted three months and gave Pankaj the ammunition for his next steps after realizing the lack of vegetarian Punjabi food in Mumbai. Hence, despite having no background or connections in the F&B industry in Mumbai, he started working on his plans to bring Amritsar’s renowned yet humble Chole Kulcha to the city of Mumbai. In 2011, Pankaj launched the city’s first Oye Kake, the regional vegetarian Punjabi restaurant brand under the parent company – Flavour Pot Foods L.L.P. Fuelled by his passion, he also contributed to creating marketing USPs which included bringing in water from Amritsar to knead the kulcha dough. Since its inception, Oye Kake has expanded across the city with several outlets and delivery kitchens, with a few more in the pipeline. Driven by the vision to bring new experiences to the table, Pankaj launched Taftoon Bar & Kitchen in November 2017, which gave Mumbaikars the chance to sample unexplored dishes from the regions of Kabul through to Chittagong, also known as the Grand Trunk Road.
The establishment received immense appreciation and has celebrated its 4th anniversary this year. Taftoon’s next outlet is currently in the works and will launch in Mumbai by 2022. What was born out of passion is now a business that is celebrating a decade in this industry. Even though there were several curveballs along the way, Pankaj never took his eyes off his goal. Instead, he channelled this into an opportunity to strengthen his infrastructure, and the core team, and define short- and long-term goals. His vision now involves growing his team and taking both the brands – Oye Kake and Taftoon Bar & Kitchen pan-India, along with the intent to put these on the global map, as well. The team is currently working on two concepts that are bound to take the F&B world by storm. When he is not at work, Pankaj spends his time keeping himself updated on the culinary trends around the world. Additionally, he keeps up with his fitness regime through regular CrossFit training and playing sports.