He used to sell tea in Bandra when a person accompanying Prem Ganapathy left him at Bandra Station. The heart touching story of Ganapathy is an inspiration for the youth who don’t take up challenges in their lives.
When a person left Ganapathy at Bandra Station, people contributed money for his return ticket to Chennai. But, he refused to go back and started cleaning utensils in a restaurant. He appealed to his owner, to let him become a waiter as he was class 10 pass. The owner refused, because of regional politics and Prem bided his time till a neighborhood dosa restaurant opened and offered him a job from a dishwasher to a tea boy.
Prem became a huge hit with the customers because of his excellent customer service, initiatives and relationship and brought business Rs. 1000 daily which was almost 3 times as compared to other tea boys.
One day, a customer made him an offer. He was planning to open a tea shop in Vashi in Mumbai. He wanted Prem to be his 50 – 50 partner where the owner would invest the money while Prem would run the shop. The shop started doing brisk business when the owner became greedy. It hurt him to share 50 % of the profit with Prem and he threw Prem out replacing him with an employee.
He took a small loan from his uncle and with his brother, opened his own tea stall. Unfortunately the neighbourhood residents objected. He then started a hand cart but that also did not work out. He found a spot and set up a south Indian stall. He did not know a thing about dosas and idli but learnt by observation, trial and error. The dosa stall was a huge hit and flourished during the 5 years from 1992-1997.
He saved a couple of lakhs of Rupees and instead of heading home he took the biggest risk of his life and opened a new shop near Vashi station and named it as Dosa Plaza. His Chinese plaza next to the Dosa Plaza flopped miserably and was shut down in 3 months. Undaunted, Prem realized some lessons from it. He applied those lessons in making
Chinese cuisine in his dosas which worked very well.
He got passionate and invented a variety of dosas with Chinese style like American Chopsuey, Schezwan Dosa, Paneer chilly, Spring roll dosa etc. The 108 types of Dosas in his menu gets him a lot of publicity. A chance encounter with a customer who was part of the team setting up a food court in a mall in New Bombay advised him to take a stall at the food court and again Prem was ready and willing to grow and expand. His vision was to grow by better offerings and better customer service. He also went to ad agencies to create the brand identity including the logo, brands, menu card, waiters dress etc.
He started getting a lot of offers for franchising and had to find out the meaning of franchising and its modus operandi. Dosa Plaza currently has 26 outlets and 5 of them are company owned. It has 150 employees and a turnover of 5 crore.
Prem’s story is an inspiration for those who don’t take risks in their lives. He could have moved to his hometown or he could have done some small task but the winners always do things differently. They are not different from others.