The year 2020 wasn’t all negative as many would think. It has also been a year of courage, grit and determination to rise up to the challenges life threw at us. As we get ready to bid goodbye to the year, we bring to you the stories that lift our soul
Actor-filmmaker HARSH GUPTA came up with the idea of a café based on the theme of chemistry labs and hazmat suits while binging on a show during the lockdown. His love for coffee and passion for opening his own café made him take this plunge and gave East Delhi – Breakin’ Brew. Serving Italian, American, Continental and Asian cuisines, Breakin’ Brew is located at New Delhi’s Hargobind Enclave near Anand Vihar.
The computer science engineer, who worked as an actor-director in Delhi for an year before moving to New York City where he studied method acting and filmmaking, talks to SAURABH TANKHA on how the pandemic forced him to utilise the free time at hand to build up his business way earlier than he wanted to.
When and how did this idea strike you and how did you go about it?
This idea came to me while binge watching Breaking Bad during lockdown. The chemistry PPE kits from the show were the first thing that stuck with me and made me wonder how it would be if there’s a cafe with this in the times of Covid-19 providing the safety needed in the current times. I talked about it with my childhood friend and neighbour, Rohan Kaushik, who had just finished his architectural degree. We discussed in depth about the various designs on which cafes are operating around the world and how we can merge the design with the theme of the show.
What prompted you to start this venture during the period of Covid-19?
I was studying filmmaking and method acting in NYC before Covid-19 hit us. I got stuck back home as I was here for a vacation. The total shutdown of my industry and no work scope in the near future plus not being able to move back due to the pandemic made me wander with different ideas to sustain a living.
Did people around warn you to not venture in the market during this phase?
That goes without question. Yes, they did. I would be lying if I said I didn’t listen. I did my market research two months prior to beginning this initiative and went around several places in Delhi to see how the industry is getting back from the pandemic and what response they are getting from customers. After careful observations, I found out that businesses are getting feasible by the day and it was the right time to establish something which would give customers the food and safety they deserve.
What challenges did you come across?
The biggest challenge was the lack of human resources. Most of the construction labour was back in villages and those who remained worked on specific days with higher prices. It was a challenge to build the cafe within the decided time period. Same was the issue with accumulating good staff for the outlet as most had moved back to their hometowns and interviews had to be taken online. Thus the pandemic made sure to give us a hard time.
Did you have to change your strategy due to the pandemic?
I didn’t ever plan without a pandemic in place. So no, I never had to change my strategy since every single thing was planned keeping in mind the current situations.
Did you do some research before entering the market?
I went to several cafes and restaurants with similar food cuisines in the Delhi-NCR areas and examined their safety procedures as well as customer response and planned accordingly
To turn this brand into a chain and in the future begin several themed cafes around the country and even abroad.