If you have ever been to Thamel or are you planning to go Thamel? Then you must have encountered Mahabir Dai's Restaurant ‘Nepal Connection Centre’. Mahabir Pun is not a new name for most Nepali. He is one of the Nepal’s leading social entrepreneurs and education activists working to connect rural Nepal digitally. For his contribution, he has been awarded many awards. Established in 2011, Mahabir Dai's restaurant is one of the ventures established to contribute towards his work. In this issue, we are featuring the restaurant as the Social Enterprise. We talked with Mr. Hupen Pun, Manager of Mahabir Dai's Restaurant.
What is the Idea Behind the Restaurant?The main idea of the restaurant is to earn for social work. It’s the information center to get to know about the projects of Mahabir Pun. To know about his work and to meet him in person. Likewise, being a restaurant it’s a business hub, and moreover, it’s a good hangout and work place. The idea is for it to be a sharing place. We provide free high-speed internet and also a laptop if someone wants to come and work in the areas. Along with the business, it is providing services to people in different ways. Different events can be organized like interaction programs, video presentations and so on. To sum up, it is a business with a social cause. And it is the first and only a restaurant with a social cause in the Thamel area.
How did the restaurant get started?
Mahabir pun always thought to generate money by himself to support his social cause. In 2000, he had tried to establish the restaurant in Denver, the USA for generating money for community development project in Nepal. In 2011, Mahabir Pun along with 4 board members, came up with the same idea to initiate the restaurant and started Nepal Connection in 2012 September formally.
What are the Services provided by the restaurant?
Nepal Connection works as a platform for bringing like-minded people together, who would like to work and improve their community not only by donations but by sharing ideas and volunteering in various social works carried out around the country. Thus, this restaurant also serves a platform to meet like-minded individuals and currently serves as the promotion centre and contact point for the community managed the eco-trekking program. At the restaurant, one can learn through the slideshow about various social projects.
One can find the following services:
• Annapurna Dhaulagiri Community Trekking Routes Managed by Local Communities
• Great Himalayan Trail and Guerrilla Trails
• Volunteering opportunities in rural Nepal
• Products made by the women in the rural areas
• Sharing your Ideas & Organizing talk programs
• Connection with organizations or individuals of your interest in Nepal
What have your achievements been till date?
Talking about achievements, supporting to connect Nepal digitally is the main achievement of this Restaurant. This restaurant is the effective tool for supporting social causes and enabling these to be sustained is the main achievement. Moreover, rural people are connected to the digital world. School Children learn different Origami Paper Crafts trough YouTube, Prepare the craft and when done we put those crafts on the Display. So, connecting these small creative minds to the digital world is the main achievement. Likewise, there are huge changes on health sector as well.
How many staffs are there in the restaurant? Is the income from this Restaurant sufficient for providing great variety of services?
There are currently 8 staffs in the restaurant who get their salary from the restaurant. The restaurant is the profitable business. The restaurant is able to cover its cost and also support the social causes from its profit too.
What are the peak hours of the restaurant?
The restaurant is open from morning 9 am to 9 pm in the evening. The peak hour in the restaurant is after 2:00 pm. It is mainly because of two reasons: Mahabir Sir generally comes here after 2. If someone wants to meet him in person, they come after 2 pm. Other customers also start to enter from the mid-day.
What are the challenges of the business?
Being a service-oriented business, providing the wide variety of service is itself a challenge. Keeping track of everything is a big challenge. We have to focus not only the restaurant, but other services too. The food quality maintenance is another big challenge.
What is the competitive scenario of the Business?
We are registered as not for profit sharing company. As we are not only for profit. We are here to support the rural community through the profit. We have our own identity. We have our competitive advantage through our image and our wide variety of services. Every bite of food one takes in this restaurant goes towards the social cause. thus, we are not in a business battle. So, the competition has not made our business tough.
You have such a limited space. How do you manage different events and walk-in customer at the same time?
Though we have limited space, we manage the events in such a way that walk-in customer will not go back outside. In our limited space, we do partition and arrangement of the tables in such a way that there is enough space for the event and walk-in customer simultaneously. But sometimes if there is the big event with a large number of people we have to close the restaurant for the event. This restaurant has taught me personally that with limited resources, you can make and create an impact in the life of people.
Is there any seasonal trend in the restaurant business?
Yes, certainly there is the seasonal trend. This post winter is the offseason for the Tourism in Thamel. Being the Tourist area, there are not many tourists nowadays. There are few walk-in customers.
How does this restaurant support youth who want to start their own venture?
If somebody wants to start their own work, learn and do something, they can use our space. We provide a laptop along with free internet. We provide this facility free of cost. They need not order the food compulsorily of the restaurant for taking these services. It is a free platform for the youths.
Being the Manager of the Restaurant Business, what are your recommendations for the youths who want to start such business?
The restaurant business is the service-oriented business; You have to focus on the service you provide. The main thing I have learnt from this restaurant and Mahabir Sir is to ‘Be hungry for your dreams’. Your commitment and hard work will really pay off eventually.
Is there anything you want to add lastly?
Thank you for this opportunity. It is a pleasure to share these things about this restaurant.
Mandala Street, Thamel
Phone: +977 9865052064