Shot by Ivin Anthony Content Courtesy: Humans Of Bombay
Farokh’s Story :
“It’s never too late to run behind your passion like wildfire…the ‘right time’ is whatever you choose to make it!” – says Farokh Irani, a Restaurateur & Risk taker. “While growing up, I had a keen interest in food. While my other friends were playing outside, I would watch my mother cook and I could list out every ingredient in the most complicated dish — in one bite! Over time, as the pressure of doing well in school increased, I allowed my passion to take a back seat and focused on making money. At 20, I started working in film production and got myself a decent number of projects to become financially independent.
After I got married, I decided to get a full-time job and a stable salary — I got into management. I then got the opportunity to move to New York and become the manager of an upscale restaurant — I had come full circle and gone back to the kitchen!
I worked there for 15 long years as my wife and I started to build our lives together. She worked with children with disabilities, and together we raised our children. We lived a cozy, comfortable life where we saved a lot of the money we made for the future…whatever that had in store for us.
It was one of the toughest yet fulfilling decisions we had to make. At the age of 55, I got the opportunity to open my own restaurant!
This place had been a restaurant in the past but was completely run down and filthy. The offer had come up in passing, but after the idea was planted in my head, I started losing sleep over the opportunity. Was it a mid-life crisis?
I had always spoken to my wife about my real dream- the dream of owning and running my own restaurant. Working in management for so many years had only strengthened my dream. I knew I was made to do it, but it would require us to use all our savings and put it into my dream…I wasn’t ready to do that. But my wife is such that she insisted I go for it — within a few minutes she selflessly agreed to put my dreams before hers…I still don’t know how I got so lucky. She left her comfort zone, her job, packed our bags, and within a blink of the eye, traveled 4 hours away to a completely new place to set up shop.
When I say we started from scratch I mean it? Although I understood the ins and outs of a successful restaurant, I had no we experience running a business. Even at my age, I was scared and uncertain about the future. With no man power or external help, my family and I started the business. My brother took the floor while my wife and I handled the kitchen— I used to even wash all the customer’s dishes! I had put in all my savings into fixing up the place, so we bootstrapped everything!
Slowly, through word of mouth our restaurant sales went up and the next year we ended up winning the ‘Best Indian Restaurant’ Award in my town — I was elated! It was only once I turned 60, that I took my first day off — until then, we were working like any other startup — 24/7! I still go every single day to work — there’s nothing like the sweet pain of a hard day’s work and I guess it paid off, because at the age of 63, I opened another restaurant, a vegan cafe right across the road…and that’s thriving as well! So, I guess all I’m trying to say is, it’s never too late to run behind your passion like wildfire — we have ONE life, and there’s no ‘right time’ to begin…the ‘right time’ is whatever you choose to make it!”