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Meet the man behind Ten Downing Street, Nagpur

In an interview with Nation Next, Varun Sapkal, speaks about the reason behind coming up with TDS, his venture - the pure-veg restaurant Amaira and more.
Varun Sapkal

A decade back, many people complained about Nagpur not having enough chilled out pubs or classy restrobars. That fact, left most of the Nagpurians with a recurring question – ‘Where do I take my friend from a metro city to hang out in Nagpur?’ At a time when pubs and restrobars were not very much in vogue in the Orange city, a young Nagpurian took a risk and the pub Ten Downing Street (TDS) was started in Nagpur. Over the years TDS, Nagpur has become one of the most popular places in the city. In a relaxed interview with Nation Next, Varun Sapkal, the man behind TDS, Nagpur speaks about the reason behind coming up with TDS in Nagpur, his other venture – the pure-veg restaurant Amaira – and his experiences pertaining to the food industry in Nagpur.

Excerpts:

You came up with the pub – 10 Downing Street (TDS) in April 2007. It was a time when there were very few pubs in Nagpur. What motivated you to come up with TDS?

It was when I was 22, I decided to start TDS in Nagpur. While studying hotel management in Pune, I realised that Nagpur did not have a chilled out place with a soothing ambience and a classy décor for celebrations. Now, in western countries, a pub is considered to be a highly sophisticated place with soft music where people meet after their work to have dinner, drinks and to relax. But in India, people consider a pub to be a public utility bar. So, we thought of this British concept. We thought of introducing Indian delicacies of our liking and choice, with drinks and exquisite surroundings, so that Nagpurians can enjoy and have a nice time. The prime location of 10 Downing Street with ample parking space further worked in our favour.

Pubs are usually known for the loud parties they host. But TDS has always maintained a soft music and fine dine ambience. Did you make conscious efforts for the same?

A pub generally has loud music, dingy lights and absolute chaos. Ironically, we never saw that happening at TDS from day one and fortunately we managed to maintain the decorum of our pub. Initially, we had a lot of young customers, so we maintained the ambience according to their preference. Now that we have more of a family crowd, we have moulded ourselves according to their taste. ?When in Rome, do as the Romans do? is what I have realised in the last few years. I’m very happy with the way we operate rather than lending my place for parties, as it ultimately leads to damage of property, exceeding permitted time limits and chaos. In spite of 10 Downing Street being a pub, we do not have the reputation of being a noisy and unruly place. Moreover, unlike other cities, Nagpur has to shut its pubs before 12 am. Neither can we extend the time nor does the crowd here demands the same.

Over the period of almost ten years, have you see a change in the kind of people coming to TDS?

When we ventured into this business, we had the elite young crowd as our customers. Of late, we have witnessed a sudden change in the pattern of customers visiting the pub. Families occupy the restaurant more than the young crowd now. Moreover, lot many people who were regulars at TDS have moved out of Nagpur. Many students as well visit TDS but of late they have become very money conscious.

What made you come up with Amaira – a pure veg restaurant? Is it true that in Nagpur, vegetarian food business makes more sense than non-vegetarian food business

In Nagpur, vegetarian food is absolutely more in demand as compared to non-vegetarian food. Amaira was my fathers idea and his dream. Just like TDS, Amaira too has a location benefit. There was a time when Amaira was doing much better than 10 Downing Street. It was the business research which we did for Amaira which made it a successful venture for us.

With two restaurants of yours in Nagpur ? 10 Downing Street and Amaira, you can be termed as a serial restaurateur. Does it make more business sense to have multiple entities in food business 

Yes, it does. I even owned the Hyderabad House restaurant, which was a take away eatery. Unfortunately I had to shut it down as I was incurring losses. In a city like Nagpur, roti sells more as compared to rice. Nagpurians don’t find a biryani more than Rs 100 pocket friendly! They want the typical taste of biryani with mattha. We tried our best to make the biryani authentic and genuine in taste, but the venture failed. Food industry is all about trial and error. One can’t expect success at every step in life. Sometimes you learn things the hard way and Hyderabad House was a learning lesson for me.

What drove you to create multiple ventures in the food industry?

Demand is something, which has always motivated me. It’s said that On the top of the pyramid, only one person can reach and stand. If you don’t do it someone else will do it. When there were opportunities with good resources available, I just grabbed the opportunities and today I’m what I’m. It was always because of my instincts and gut feeling. Having said that, I believe that one shouldn’t take careless risks; one should always be calculative and well researched.

How do you respond to the general perception that Nagpurians don’t appreciate anything new in food Do you see Nagpur opening up to new brands and concepts in food industry?

If Nagpurians like a particular food item at my restaurant, they would definitely the place again. Now is the right time to re-invest in food industry. I’m against the concept of blogs and reviews on Facebook because they are totally biased. Because, if somebody has any kind personal problem with me, they take revenge by bringing a bad name to my restaurants.

What’s your success mantra?

I have always believed that innovation is the key to success. Many attempts were made by our competitors to outperform us but they did not succeed. We have kept interesting offers for our customers over the years. For e.g., if a person is 60 years old; he is entitled to a 60% discount! When we started our operations, Nagpur was emerging as a corporate hub which accelerated our turnover. In a few months, 10 Downing Street was on everybodys mind. If an entrepreneur keeps reinventing himself by providing value-based activities, it will increase his goodwill and credibility. That’s my success mantra.

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Nagpur News

12-yr-old Nagpur boy dies after trying to imitate a deadly YouTube video

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Avani Arya | Nagpur

A 12-year-old boy named Agranya Barapatre in Nagpur breathed his last after trying to imitate a video on YouTube at his neighbour’s place. The woman, in the video, is seen demonstrating how she escaped with her hands tied behind, gagged and face covered with scarves. He was found hanging from a wooden ladder’s stick on the neighbour’s terrace but there was no knot on the scarf. 

Upon inspection, it was learnt that Agranya had downloaded a video titled ‘Full face cover challenge’ in his phone. Cops said that there was no reason for the teenager to commit suicide but the possibility of an accident could not be ruled out.

Arangya’s mother said the couple had no clue where the scarf came from; he only carried a chakri and a kite. She also revealed that her son usually played on their neighbour’s terrace

Reportedly, Agranya was undergoing a psychiatric treatment as he was a hyperactive kid who wasn’t attentive in studies. He was good with using phones and application so his family tried to keep the phone away from him. However, he would somehow always locate the phone. 

Agranya, the only child to his parents, was supposed to be felicitated at his school on Thursday during Republic Day for securing second position at a double-lathi event at the third National Traditional Lathi Sports Championship in Indore.

Post the incident, he was rushed to Government Medical College but was declared dead. Sakkardara Police registered a case of accident death.

Also Read: President’s Cup 2.0 kickstarts at DPS MIHAN in Nagpur

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Nagpur News

President’s Cup 2.0 kickstarts at DPS MIHAN in Nagpur

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Radhika Dhawad | Achalpur

The second edition of President’s Cup for Tennis Ball and Cricket was held in the sprawling campus of DPS MIHAN.

The second edition of the President’s Cup for Tennis Ball and Cricket was held in the sprawling campus of Delhi Public School (DPS MIHAN) on Friday, January 27. Gurudas Raut, a differently-abled international cricket player, captain of T20 World Cup 2019 and a recipient of many awards instituted by BCCI, ICC and VCA graced the occasion as Chief Guest and inaugurated the event. Janak Shahu, Secretary, Physically Challenged Cricket Association was also present on this occasion. 

The second edition of President’s Cup for Tennis Ball and Cricket was held in the sprawling campus of DPS MIHAN.

Nidhi Yadav Principal at DPS MIHAN welcomed the guests by presenting saplings, which is the tradition of the school. In her welcome address, she highlighted the vision of President and Pro Vice Chairperson Tulika Kedia who ensures the best of sporting facilities are provided to the students for holistic education and for psycho- socio development. 

The second edition of President’s Cup for Tennis Ball and Cricket was held in the sprawling campus of DPS MIHAN.

She also thanked the Director Savita Jaiswal for her constant guidance and support. She expressed her gratitude for the benign presence of Raut to motivate the young players befitting to the occasion. She emphasized that he is a perfect role model for the budding cricketers. 

The second edition of President’s Cup for Tennis Ball and Cricket was held in the sprawling campus of DPS MIHAN.

Raut in his speech, appreciated the sporting facilities and encouragement given by the school for the development of sporting culture amongst the students. He emphasized that one should explore opportunities and believe in oneself to achieve one’s goal. He mentioned that with will power he could pursue cricket and achieve laurels at national and international level inspite of his limitations. 

In this edition, six teams are competing for the coveted President’s Cup. The finals will be held on Monday 30th January 2023. 

Also read: Rotary Club of Nagpur Vision organises kidathon, 4000 children participate

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Entertainment

Naatu Naatu composer MM Keeravani is a great musician; just that he’s underrated: AR Rahman

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Elina Nayak | India

AR Rahman

SS Rajamouli’s ‘RRR’ has been making news for the past few weeks. Be it winning Golden Globe for the song ‘Naatu Naatu’ or being nominated for Oscars 2023, composer MM Keeravani is a national name now. The Oscar-Golden Globe-Grammy awards winner, AR Rahman said, spoke about MM Keeravani in a recent interview.

Expressing that Keeravani is ‘underrated’, he said, “You know what? MM Keeravani is a great composer, it’s just that he’s underrated. And I’m not sure if it’s true, Keeravani wanted to quit music in 2015 and retire. In fact, that’s when his career had actually started. And everyone noticed it. I believe when someone thinks their life is over, that’s when your life starts. You just need to live. I even tell my kids the same, ‘that gentleman (Keeravani), who’s been in the industry for 35 years, wanted to quit so early when his career actually started at that point.” 

This video of Rahman’s interview about Keeravani has been appreciated on social media. And many users have also praised him for his positive and inspirational statements. Moreover, Keeravani will be conferred with Padma Shri this year, who once thought of quitting and wanted to retire in 2015. 

Also read: To complete my film ‘Emergency’, I mortgaged every single thing I owned: Kangana Ranaut

 

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