Dildeep Kalra is the vice president of Massive Restaurants, which runs Farzi Cafe in City Walk, Dubai as well as several outlets in India including Masala Library, Pa Pa Ya and Masala Bar. The 34-year-old is also the founder of a new fashion app, Stylehorn, which gives users instant feedback on their outfit. Ms Kalra, mother to a daughter, two, and a son, aged four, is based in New Delhi, and travels to Dubai every three months to oversee the expansion of her brand in the emirate.
I wake up early and if I’m at home I make sure the kids are up and ready for the day ahead. Sometimes I take my eldest to school, but if I’m busy with work someone else will take him. After the kids are organised I’ll have a very strong coffee and maybe some eggs. I’m not big on breakfast as I’m tasting so much food throughout the day on my job. I get dressed; my style is classic and I’ll usually opt for a more formal look in the office, I find a trouser suit works well for most engagements during the day. After this I’ll read the newspapers to keep up to date with what’s happening and go through my diary to prepare my daily schedule.
I head to the office, about 15 minutes away from home. We have 50 employees and most of them have been with us for a long time. I’ll catch up with anyone who needs me, otherwise I’m preparing for the day’s meetings.
Every Tuesday we have a big meeting with all the heads of departments. We discuss the plans for the next week, go over sales, marketing and purchasing. Every single restaurant head comes to the meetings and each business is discussed to address any issues.
I often go to Cyber Hub in Gurgaon, New Delhi, for lunch where we have two restaurants and make a spot check. I always arrive unannounced so I can see what is really going on from a normal customer point of view. One restaurant is a buffet style and the other is a waiter service venue. I check everything: the cleanliness, the service, the presentation and attitude of the staff, the quality and presentation of the food. I even check the bathrooms – all of these things are critical when running a successful restaurant.
I now turn my attention to the expanding business plans. We have several new sites that we’re working on so I’ll hold conference calls with the project managers to get an update on progress. Sometimes I visit the sites in person and meet the team there. We have one restaurant in Dubai at the moment but would love to open more. Our cuisine incorporates cutting-edge culinary techniques, including elements of molecular gastronomy and creative culinary art. Dubai has an international culture and its diners have a well exposed and sophisticated palate and are open to innovative experiences, so we plan to open two more Farzi Cafes by the end of 2017.
Later I’ll work on my own project, Stylehorn. I love running Massive Restaurants, but that is the business my husband started and I run it. I really wanted my own project that is totally my own creation. Stylehorn is a logical extension of the need we all have for external validation. If a stranger comes up to you in the street and comments on your appearance in a positive manner it gives you a boost for the rest of the day, even many days to come. The app is an extrapolation of this where users can upload their outfits and get ratings from other users. Sometimes it’s good to get strangers’ opinions; people close to you often don’t tell you the truth. Your husband, for example, might say you look great in whatever you wear, but the app helps you get real feedback.
I go home and spend time with the kids as they are back from school. We go swimming or do another activity together. I like to spend quality time with them when I’m home as I’m often travelling.
Once the kids are in bed, I head out for dinner with friends or to an event. I do a lot of food reviews with journalists at our restaurants and we hold live performances at Farzi Cafes in India, so often I’ll attend one of those. If my husband is home and not travelling we have social engagements and will be out most nights attending events or having business meetings over dinner. On a rare night when I don’t have something planned out of the house I’ll settle down with a good book.
I check emails and the reports coming through from all of the restaurants to see what has happened that day.
I head to bed. I sleep easily.
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