Sunday, 1 September 2013

Varun Tuli Loses Khan Market But Gets VVIP Wedding

By Sourish Bhattacharyya
THE passionate young restaupreneur who has acquired a legion of admirers with the sushi and dim sum served at Yum Yum Tree, New Friends Colony, Varun Tuli was to open his second restaurant in the Middle Lane of Khan Market in the space occupied by Sudha Kuckreja and Manav Sharma’s Blanco. I, for one, was really looking forward to the second restaurant, for I have become a fan of Tuli’s and the present location of Yum Yum Tree doesn’t agree with me.
Tuli, we are told, has withdrawn from the project, albeit not voluntarily. He got the restaurant project rolling on a war footing and his architect and interior decorators got down to work, and so did the Japanese conveyor belt company. It was at this advanced stage that the landlord, Navneet Kalra of Dayal Opticals, who is Khan Market’s biggest real estate owner, pulled the plug. He refused to give Tuli the possession letter, after procrastinating, and then simply informed the young man that he was going to run his own restaurant in that space.
Kalra, if you remember, had bought over Khan Chacha, the popular hole-in-the-wall kebab roll seller, a couple of years back. The place has seen a dip in popularity, maybe because people are getting tired of the same old rolls, but it seems to have given Kalra enough good reasons to turn into a full-time restaurateur.
Yum Yum Tree's Varun Tuli (centre) with friends
For Tuli, sadly, finding a second home for Yum Yum Tree is turning out to be quite an arduous endeavour. He was seriously looking at No. 28, Lodi Colony Market, the address where AD Singh’s Guppy by Ai is located, after Sorab Sitaram walked out of the European restaurant project he was working on with the landlords. Tuli dumped it in favour of Khan Market, but he has been two times unlucky.
Nonetheless, Tuli’s catering business is keeping him very busy and the Delhi leg of the wedding of Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi’s son, Gaurav, who’s tying the knot with his British girlfriend Elizabeth Colebourn in October, will see the young restaurateur putting together a spread for 1,200 to 1,500 people for what promises to be the who’s who event of the year. (Incidentally, Colebourn, who studied at London School of Economics and now lives in Delhi, met Gaurav Gogoi in New York in 2010 while interning with the sanctions committee of the United Nations Secretariat.) The catering contract will establish Tuli’s position as the rising star of the catering world.

(Here's a link to an article I wrote for Mail Today/India Today Group on Navneet Kalra and Khan Chacha. http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/The+reinvention+of+Khan+Chacha+/1/84778.html)