Within two years of starting the Other Side Café in Srinagar, 27-year-old Mir Muneeb is a success story. He is all set to inaugurate his third outlet in Kashmir and aspires to emerge as an international brand.
However, his dream of venturing into the hospitality industry started with a setback. Four years ago, when he approached an international café chain to get their franchise for his homeland, his offer was rejected.
“They simply refused it citing security concerns for a conflict-zone. It was a setback but I took it as a challenge that hum Kashmiri bhi kisi say kam nahi (we Kashmiris are in no way inferior to the others). I pledged to create my own brand. After all, everyone starts with a small step,” he says while lending a helping hand to his team of chefs.
Launched in 2014, the Other Side Café offers a variety of cuisine ranging from Italian and Chinese to Tandoori in the classy ambiance of a fashionable mall in the summer capital. The café is equally popular for designer cakes.
It took him one year to finalise the branding of his dream venture. “I didn’t compromise on anything. The company which I hired for the branding would otherwise complete their task in four months but in my case it took them a full year. My friends call me a perfectionist,” he adds.
Encouraged by the response he got from people, the café has already opened its second outlet in south Kashmir’s Anantnag while the third one is scheduled to be commissioned soon.
A BCA passout, Muneeb says his parents gave him the encouragement to chase his dreams. “I do not come from business family, my parents are doctors. It was my dream to enter the hospitality sector and my parents just encouraged me.”
Apart from his cafe, Muneeb is also known for his photography skills. His clicks have made it to several newspapers, magazines and walls.
Though he hoped for the best, he expected a rise in his business to take time. “But MashaAllah it did wonders so quickly.”
Given the demand, he has also started a bakery outlet, the Other Side Oven, which is equally popular.