Caption: Chef Bhavsar Vinod Kumar at his restaurant in Suva. Photo: SUPPLIED.
Fiji’s history has created a rich cultural diversity that the country and its people are proud of and this has often been used to portray the country through the tourism industry as “Fiji, the way the world should be.”
Even though our political history has not been at its best, there are certain things that bring the various races and cultures together as a nation and have taken full advantage of. One of which is food.
One does not need to go to China to taste the best Chinese delicacies the country has to offer or to India to taste the most mouthwatering curries. They are all at our door steps.
One such entrepreneur who has taken full advantage of our cultural tolerance to food is Bhavsar Vinod Kumar.
Originally from Navsari district, the administrative capital of Gujarat in India, Vinod, 45, as he is commonly known is the owner of Bombay Guji Dhaba located at the Metropol building opposite the Suva market, who specialise in Indian cuisines.
“In Fiji, food knows no barriers. Indians here eat all sorts of food and Fijians, well they eat almost anything. I operate a Dhaba which in India is a roadside restaurant offering all Indian food but i get more Fijian customers than Indians,” the father of two said.
Vinod, the son of a grocery store owner in his little town of Navsari came to Fiji in 1991 in search of greener pastures.
“I came to Fiji to find employment and build a life for myself. I knew my father’s grocery business won’t get me where I want to go so I saved some money and went back to school for tailoring where I received a certificate in Tailoring from Anissa tailoring school.”
Using his new found skill, Vinod applied for a supervisor position at United Apparels in Fiji.
After 18 years in the tailoring industry, Vinod decided to start his own business.
“The owner of this restaurant was selling it and it was perfect for me as I have always wanted to open a restaurant. I’m a good cook as back in India I used to work for my uncles restaurant. So I know how to run a business growing up in my father’s grocery shop and I can whip up delicious Indian cuisines.”
Vinod purchased the restaurant with his savings in 2009 but he found that he needed more funds to get his restaurant running so he approached the Fiji Development Bank in 2010 for a loan for his stocks.
FDB offers loans for working capital to existing businesses that need an injection of funds to boost their business cycle. FDB loans are tailor made so that they meet the needs of entrepreneurs.
“I’m very thankful that FDB assisted me and it was easy as I had all the right requirements and the loan was approved.”
Bombay Guji Dhaba offers a homely dining experience in its setting however, the food is a class of its own. Offering both vegetarian and non-vegetarian cuisines, it is the perfect eatery. It is very close to the main market, taxi/bus stand with supermarkets just a few doors away, the fish market at its rear and megastores such as Courts and Tappoos just a stone’s throw away.
“We offer some of the best curry dishes straight from mother India itself. We have delicious chicken, mutton, lamb, goat, duck, giblet, liver, fish and crab. We also do any Chinese dish on order.”
With business booming, Vinod has already extended his operations offering takeaways to picnickers at Suva Point on Sundays and a special stall for events such as the Suva on sale and Hibiscus Festivals.
“I will be approaching FDB again for a loan soon. I have applied for a kiosk at MHCC which I’m awaiting the approval for and there are positive signs from the company that I will get it.”
Vinod has a dream of further expansion and even opening a restaurant in Australia or Canada where there is a high concentration of Fijians and FDB is with Vinod all the way in achieving this dreams.
At FDB, we are proud of customers and we share their passion and commitment. We dream with them and we make their dreams a reality.