The crowd visiting Candies – a café in Bandra – is enough evidence to reflect how amazing the place is. The multi-cuisine chain is a hit among college-goers and young executives because of the moderate pricing and variety of food. And best, you can sit at any of the three outlets in the heart of Bandra and be assured not to be asked to leave once you are done hogging.
Allan Pereira the owner of the café, always wanted to have something of his own. After completing his schooling in a boarding in Darjeeling, he returned to work with his father at Mac Ronells — a restaurant and a pastry shop, which also offered catering services. “I wanted to enroll to a catering college, but at Mac Ronells, I received hands-on training,” says the owner of the Candies which completed 27 years.
Before launching Candies, Allan travelled across the world to get a larger perspective of the confectionery sector. After the demise of his father in 1983, Allan continued to work with Mac Ronells, and within three years, he set up his own business – Candies. However, as popular as it is, the first outlet of Candies was opened in Andheri. “Within a year, I managed to lease a place in Bandra. So I shut shop in Andheri and decided to run my business in Bandra, the place where I was born and raised. After two years, I bought a place in Pali Hill and that’s how the journey began,” Allan says.
Travelling the world helped the restaurateur not just with the menu, but with the décor as well. He also has an appetite for perfection. “Before introducing something new I like to know if it will make me happy. I wanted to make Candies a place where anyone could come and pass their time. The décor has a European feel to it. Interiors are mostly Portuguese, Spanish and a bit Grecian. I transported these looks from the places I travelled.”
Besides the gorgeous décor, Candies is known for serving delicious meals. “One can get a meal within Rs 200. The menu comprises snacks such as sandwiches, pizzas and burgers prepared in different styles. “20 per cent of the recipes on the menu belong to my dad. The rest are my own experiments.”
With such a huge café come challenges. “The key challenges are to retain quality of the number of items we serve and gathering workforce,” Allan says, adding, “We need to constantly check the ingredients. Not a single item is kept for the following day. As the clock strikes 8 pm, everything on the menu is sold at a 25 per cent discount. And we never run out of takers. On the other hand, Candies has a workforce of over 180 people. None of the staff members are professionals. They are hired and kept under my supervision until they know their job.”
Today, Allan manages three outlets in Bandra, but given a chance he would love to open an outlet in Goa too. “Candies in Goa is an excellent idea,” he says, “Goa is blessed with tourists, and these tourists enjoy continental food, plus we are priced reasonably.”
Being a Goan, Allan has ensured that Goa specialties feature on the menu. His ancestral house is in Majorda, and he has his own place in Candolim. “We serve fish-curry-rice, sorpotel, pulav, Goa sausages and prawn curry. There are times when I’ve heard people bet on whether the owner is a Goan or a foreigner,” he chuckles.
This feature first appeared in The Goan on Saturday.