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Journal entry

Almost ready to go

A THOUGHT. A CONVERSATION. A REALITY.

When you’ve imagined something for so long, it’s slightly surprising to see it become reality. A passing thought turns into an idea, which turns into a conversation. The conversation turns into a checklist of old cafés, repeat trips to Bademiya, walks on Chowpatty beach. Bombay inspires cooking, words, sketches.

And before you know it, you’re sitting on a bentwood chair at a marble table, looking at sepia portraits of your family, sipping chai and eating a Bombay omelette. In the middle of London.

You can see a replica of that clock we all loved from Victoria Terminus. The Thums Up has just been delivered and is being put on a shelf at the bar. The Rules of the Café sign is up. The fans are rotating slowly. The exposed wiring is a tad scruffy. Passers-by are peering through the windows wondering what has just turned up and made itself comfortable on St. Martin’s Lane in that gap between Jamie’s Italian and Stringfellows.

We’re perched here in the one-day space between our last dry run yesterday and our soft opening tomorrow. It’s an odd lull. Dry runs are not easy. To bring everything together, to make it work seamlessly, to give customers a great experience. All of these things require a lot of sweat and a lot of resourcefulness from a lot of people. It’s the culmination of years of work.

And after all that effort, who knows what tomorrow will bring. Will people buy the Thums Up? Will they love the biryanis as much as we do? Will they come in for our Bombay breakfasts? Will our chai always be tasty? Does London even need a Bombay Café?

One thing is for sure. It’s been truly a team effort. We have so many great people here, with so much spirit and style (so much dishoom!) The team that brought Dishoom to life and the team that is now ready to run it – both full of amazing people. We’re more than a little humbled to be working with such great people.

So, tomorrow morning at eight, we start our ‘soft’ opening. And a week later there will officially be a Bombay Café in London.

Wish us luck!

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Shak

Very nice food, nice website. But one BIG problem: Everyone wants to know more about "Iranis". You only briefly define what an "Irani cafe" is on your website. But you decline to define Iranis as anything other than "Persian immigrants". This denies your customers from understanding who Iranis are, and why their Mumbai cafes are the multicultural food and social havens they are. Why your fear? Indian "Iranis" are actually Iranian Zoroastrian immigrants from the early 20th century. They left a nation incredibly intolerant to religious minorities (the irony being that Zoroastrianism was for many centuries the dominant religion throughout ancient Persia and beyond). In Mumbai, they joined the Parsi people, their Zoroastrian brethren who'd already found refuge in India more than 1000 years ago. The Iranis religion is very important to them. Why are you afraid to mention their religion? I've searched many citations for your lovely cafe, and it's clear that your pr materials as well as your website are afraid to mention the religion of the Indian Iranis. I beleive also that Dishoom is lovingly recreated by non-Iranis -- nothing wrong with that, but something else you also seem fearful to admit. Why not be open and honest? One Mumbai Irani cafe is famous for it's paintings of religious figures, including Zarathustra, on their mirrors -- a charming touch of the multiculturalism that is Mumbai. Your omission of these vital facts about the Mumbai Irani community, as well as your own personal backgrounds (whatever those may be), is denying your customers the ability to truly appreciate the multicultural ethos that all Irani cafes evoke. In multicultural London, this lack of identity-savvy is very out of place.

Sean Desouza

Superb job! The food is unbelievably authentic and tasty, been there 4 times in the space of 1 week and just about every dish on the menu immediately transports you to some part of Mumbai :) Way to go my friends.... Cheers, Sean

Aks

Hello Madam/Sir I visited your restuarant yesterday just by chance and was very much impressed by the concept and layout. Three Cheers Dishoom! I think your restaurant has great scope to grow but havent seen much of marketing to advertise this great concept and take it to a different level I work as Strategic Marketing Head in London and would like to offer my professional service free to Disoom. You must be thinking why should somebody do it for free ? I a Bombayite (by heart ) feel that we owe a lot to Iranian/ Persian Community to build Bombay, which we are proud of today. My heart cries to see the Iranian cafes which was once upon a time the pride of Bombay are disappearing and our new generation will not be able to enjoy the unique experience of dining at these cafes in Bombay I would be honoured if I could share some of my marketing strategies to make your project atleast Big enough in London. ( you may not even need my services but I thought, I should atleast offer) Next time I go to Mumbai in December, I would try to meet the owner of atleast one such heritage cafe to discuss how it could be revived in Bombay ( sorry for me it is still Bombay not Mumbai) Warm Regards Aks

shamil

@Shak - thanks for comments, Shak. Absolutely not afraid to get into religion. There's a just a lot to communicate, that's all! Would you help write a blog post for us on this topic? Write to us at hello@dishoom.com!

aarti thakur

Wow!!!! after reading all above comments i am definitely visitng this place on 9th october for dinner with my mates... cnt wait to go and enjoy... i lived in bombay for 6 mnths only but i absolutely love that place and wud love to spend my life there now. impressed with AKS comments and i fully understand how beautiful lovely bombay city is and really wish to see more iranian/parisian local cafes in there....

A A

You guys have put the dishoom into dishoom... Always a pleasure never a chore to dine at this place. Any chance of adding on Vada pau onto the menu though??!!

Sanjiv

I visited Dishoom with my family on Friday evening last week. It was a journey that was emotional, enjoyable and cravable, well done! You have picked the best of what Bombay food has to offer, packaged it in a way which makes the food easy to access and wrapped an amazing experience around it. Kiran our waitress was an incredible host and an outstanding sales person...a real credit to you and your team. The fans, hanging wires, table tops, chai glasses, bollywood posters, choice of music etc was all adding to the experience. My wife was in tears by the end of the meal...reliving our days in Bombay and cherishing our experience at Dishoom. All my very best to you and my congratulations for an incredibly well put together concept. May you grow and prosper!

Raj

Very true, Fans, hanging wires , table tops , chai all reminds me of Bombay cafes I am very impressed with Aks comments and willingness to do something for corporates for their benefit, mot many people have this intention, at-least in todays world and that too in a super busy city like London Well done Aks and Dishoom

Dishoom

@Zahnarzt – No problem – please do – would be great if you would attribute it and link to it. Feel free to post back here when you’ve done it, if you like!

Dee

I had lunch at the Kings Cross branch yesterday. A most enjoyable experience! Food and ambiance was ace and I really enjoyed looking at the photographs on the wall and humorous retro Indian ads in the ladies' Sadly the bhang lassi didn't have any bhang in it, but still an opportunity to reminisce and have a little laugh.....