Mumbai: 'The Bank' gastropub will offer drinks on loan

Sep 16, 2017, 08:59 IST | Shraddha Uchil

A pair of entrepreneurs are counting on you to help them launch a gastropub that offers drinks on loan

A 3D rendering of what The Bank will look like when complete
A 3D rendering of what The Bank will look like when complete

This is a scenario that's all too familiar to most millennials: it's the end of the month, and a colleague's farewell party comes up. The next morning, you realise you don't have enough money to last you till your next pay cheque. Turns out, two budding entrepreneurs from the city have a solution - a pub called The Bank.

Harsh Mav and Shaunak Mukherjee
Harsh Mav and Shaunak Mukherjee

"The concept is born out of the understanding of what being broke towards the end of the month feels like," begins Harsh Mav, who, along with childhood friend Shaunak Mukherjee, is launching a space where you can drink on a loan and repay it in EMIs, among other things. And they've just started a crowdfunding campaign so you can help turn their dream into reality.

Ajit Dhumal at BBC's first outlet in Goregaon. Pic/Sneha Kharabe
Ajit Dhumal at BBC's first outlet in Goregaon. Pic/Sneha Kharabe

Jumping through hoops
"We have been frequenting different pubs in the city for a while, and we realised that most places serve alcohol at prices that are unaffordable to people like us. So, we started thinking of new ways in which bars could make money while keeping it affordable for customers. That's when we thought, 'Why not do this ourselves?'" says Mav.

Right off the bat, they faced a series of hurdles. They were turned down by banks for a loan, and investors weren't keen on the project due to the duo's lack of experience in the industry. Mav finally mortgaged his family home for R90 lakh, while Mukherjee managed to acquire a loan of Rs 43 lakh. They even found a space in Lower Parel's bustling Mathuradas Mills. That's when things took a turn for the worse.

"We had put down the deposit, paid three months' rent, and started work on the interiors. Then, suddenly, the BMC put a halt to everything, claiming there was a stay order on the property, a detail the landlord had failed to mention," says Mav.

Furthermore, the landlord refused to return their money, which meant they were back to where they had started - with nothing. "We're going to take legal action to recover the money, but for now, we want to get the project going. That's why we opted for crowdfunding," says Mav.

Moving forward
Needless to say, not all the funds will come from the Ketto campaign. Opening an eatery in the city requires a far larger sum than the Rs 10 lakh the duo is trying to raise. "Right now, we have most of what we need to get the pub going - food and beverage suppliers, staff, and brand tie-ups. We're looking to gather funds for the interiors," says Mav.

What do you get if you contribute to the campaign? Plenty of rewards, it appears, ranging from free drinks to getting double the return on your investment. The search is now on for a new space, and the campaign has already started catching the attention of interested investors, who, Mav and Mukherjee hope, will look beyond their inexperience and give them a fair chance.

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Scripting a success story
Until 2011, Ajit Dhumal was a hospitality consultant. Today, he is the owner of British Brewing Company (BBC), which has six outlets in the city. How did a man with a marketing background make this happen?

"It struck me when I was scoping out locations for a brand. At that time, most eateries located inside shopping malls belonged to chains. No local had set up a standalone bar in a mall, because most thought it wouldn't work. I thought the smart move would be to go with a drinks-led space that offers good food," says Dhumal. Armed with a plan, he approached Oberoi Mall. "I pitched it, but nothing came out of it because it was an untested brand. Finally, after a few months of follow-ups, I got a meeting with the MD, who agreed to give me a shot. But, I had no money to pay the rent," he says.

That's when the duo hit upon a revenue share model. The first outpost of BBC opened its doors in December 2012, soon outdoing other eateries inside the mall. "We still follow the same model at every mall we open at. It's a win-win for them and us," he shares.

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