The Real Life MBA – Ice ‘n’ Rolls – Food Spot For Everyone

Mumbai, a medley of distinct cultures and an epitome of cosmopolitanism is also a haven for gourmets. The city houses some of the best restaurants in the country but what sets her apart is the quintessential “Street Food”. An array of delicacies and cooking styles offered on the bustling streets reflects nothing but the fact that the ever-burgeoning population of the city is always ready to experience the best foodgasm! Apart from the bustling central areas of the city, colleges are the best spots to find some of the most delicious quick bites.

When we talk about college, we are essentially and most importantly talking about its culture. The college culture includes the festivals, the lingo, lectures and sessions, the hook-up culture and last but not the least, the eateries around the colleges. Eateries are deeply entrenched in the college culture, be it the canteen or the food stalls outside on the street. The food stalls smartly position themselves outside these colleges as it is the college-going students with a healthy appetite to stomach the ‘guilty pleasures’ which these stalls provide. One such place is the street across Mithibai College situated in the plush suburb of Juhu, selling variety of vegetarian junk ranging from our favorite buttery vada pav to pav bhaji dosas to Ferrero Rocher shakes. On this street, Ice ‘n’ Rolls offers everything right from lip-smacking rolls to the classic Bombay sandwiches.

The Genesis

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Manoj Kumar Pande, the proprietor of Ice ‘n’ Rolls had a very interesting story to tell us when we asked him about the inception of the joint. Prior to 2006, Manoj’s father had a small store selling general items and essentially cigarettes at the same place. In 2006, Manoj, a fresh matriculate proposed that he wanted to join the business but denied continuing the same model and wanted to introduce something new. Manoj said, “I told my father that I do not want to sell cigarettes. I wanted to change the setup and today I have done that.” After setting up the business, Manoj continued his studies and graduated in commerce from Mithibai College. But he does not see expansion anywhere in the near future simply because he does not have any siblings to shoulder his responsibility.

Unlike many other joints which have perpetual problems with the municipal authorities, Manoj started his business procuring all the required licenses such as  Health License, License 394 and License 394 A. He also has a Police License which permits him to operate till 1.30 am. This the reason why Ice ‘n’ Rolls is the only joint on the street which is open till late night, busy serving its customers.

When asked as to why did he choose fast food while setting up his business, he replied, “ Hum khaane ke shaukeen the” citing his love for food as one of the reasons behind Ice ‘n’ Rolls. In addition he also feels that this business offers good profit margins.

 

The Recipe

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Ice n Rolls started out with only three categories – Sandwiches, Rolls and Pizzas. However, today the menu includes varieties of pastas, nachos and shakes as well. “I have my own recipes. I do not like to copy anyone”, says Manoj. He denies using any source for adding new items to his menu or simply innovating the existing ones. According to Manoj, it is the quality of the ingredients that makes or breaks your dish. They get fresh raw materials everyday from the best of the markets in Mumbai. However, Manoj also ensures that he gets them at the best price so that it does not take a toll on his pricing.

How does he perceive changes in the consumer’s mindset? Manoj feels there is no major change apart from that fact that people have less disposable income now to splurge. When it comes to pricing they keep a check on the market prices and any inflation in the cost of raw materials gets factored in gradually. “I started off with the Paneer Makhani Roll at Rs 25 in 2006 and now it costs Rs 90 to buy the same roll.”

How does he compensate for the slump in the business during holidays? Manoj replied “We are not dependent only on college students. The business continues like it does on any normal day. We cater to customers from every strata of the society be it college student or a person who comes in a BMW.”

 

The Team

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Ice n Rolls has a team of 9 employees, where all of them are well trained by Manoj himself. He cooks new recipes and later ensures that his employees master them as well. “In this industry, recruiting is the biggest problem. There is no employee loyalty.”  Then how does he retain his employees? “I pay them well or may be even better than others. We give them bonuses or even advances if required. We always prefer to hire bachelors and provide them everything, right from from clothes to accommodation. There is no set pattern to recruiting people and it is only your network in the industry that helps while scouting for fresh recruits.”

Each of his 9 employees have been assigned specific tasks to ensure that there is clear division of work. However, it is only Manoj or his father who man the cash-counter.

 

The Competition

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“There is nothing like competition. Maut aur Grahak ka koi bharosa nahi”, says Manoj. He never keeps a check on the daily footfall which stands as a testimonial to the fact that he does not believe in competition.

When asked about his opinions on higher education and its importance for an entrepreneur, Manoj said, “Education is must in today’s life. However, in this industry you only require basic education to survive. Money is more important than education. You cannot educate yourself if you do not have the money.”

 

Learnings:

  1. Never opt for a business that would harm your consumers.
  2. Be Original.That’s your USP.
  3. Networking is important. It makes head-hunting easier.
  4. Do what you love. And make a business out of it.
  5. Target a wider audience.

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