The Nanglo Fame: Starting from the Scratch

March 12, 2015 , by Samridhi Goyal, Leave your thoughts
Gopal Kakshapati is a man who has not only seen the tough times but also went through the challenges that would force an ordinary man to quit. He has been an inspiration, a man who sets benchmark for others to break. A man to emulate.

“Sweat is the cologne of accomplishment” Hollywood actor Haywood Hale Bourn said and when you meet Gopal Kakshapati of Nanglo Café and Pub and Bakery Café chain you can see that clearly. Born in Tansen ,Palpa to a cloth merchant he, his brother Shyam and their mother moved to Kathmandu when their father passed away. They came to witness a Kathmandu that was probably selling freedom.

Once here, Kakshapati reminisces of a Kathmandu where hashish was legal assuring a safe haven for hippies. He remembers a time when New Road was as calm as it could be until the Beetles whizzed on by the road. It was at this time that they opened up a grocery store at Ratnapark. Kakshapati, who is a Bachelor in Economics, had just finished SLC then.


He has also founded Hidden Treasure and started the Miss Nepal contest because he wanted to give leadership training to girls and he thought more of them would be attracted if he included a glamour factor to it. Apparently, one famous restaurant run at that time was Ravi’s Spot, run by a guy from Bombay.

After three years in grocery, the watershed of organised food business in Nepal protruded in the form of Café De Park (CDP). It was a small restaurant that served hamburgers and pizzas. Western style food was a novelty and it took some time to set base. But with the progression of time, they started catering to the teachers, students and other youth around.

Kakshapati had to deal with some weird turn of events at the starting phase. ”One day a customer liked the omelet he had had and wanted to know how it was made. When we told him, he screamed at us saying that it interfered with his religious beliefs. There was another instance when a customer ordered chocolate cake and put chili sauce and tomato sauce on it and then he came up to me at the cash counter and told me that the cake didn’t taste all that great,” remembers Kakshapati.

Being the first to begin something is always an advantage as along with the advent comes its goodwill, the followers and most importantly a legacy that stays for long. But it also puts forth a big challenge of starting from a scratch. Kakshapati family was there in time floating the ideas and the brainchild just needed a lift in the most appropriate way.

“It was our desire to do something different which led us into this profession. At that time sourcing ingredients was difficult, so we used to ask people travelling to and from abroad and those coming in from different embassies to carry it for us. Then we opened Nanglo Café and Pub. There have been times when we cleaned floors, wiped glasses, participated in sales and handled all the little details. Our one USP was customer service and getting feedback from them. We were always around making sure that we built a good rappo with the customers.”

Nanglo has seen numerous customers who would come from abroad and spend some time and have a meal at Nanglo before heading home. They had people dropping by messages at the bar for their known ones they were sure who would come there and have almost all their meals there. There used to be people who literally ran their office from that space. From a place that seved food, Nanglo had already become a way of life for many.

Kakshapatis were the first ones to introduce Nepali thali and momos in an upscale setting until momos were only meant to be eaten at the dingy street corners after dusk and during the winters. There were tour operators who would bring groups of foreigners straight from the airport into Nanglo to make them experience the first taste of Nepal. Their only motive was service and good food which then translated into good word-of-mouth publicity and growing business and success.

They are now also actively into social media marketing and other forms of promotion. They recently launched the Nanglo fast track express model and held a heritage rickshaw rally to launch it and show a different side of theirs. These ideas have been coming in from son Tejas and the other newer generation who are now receptive to change. They have been planning it right in terms of making the most economical decisions such as hiring a newbie and training them to the level they want it to be instead of hiring experienced chefs which would then cut down costs and overhead liabilities and help make maybe faster returns.

They have always given their staff the status of family and been there for them in good and bad times. The findings from a recent study showed that their average employee turnover is a decent 15-20 years which also proves Nanglo has been giving dignity of labour. They feel that a team is much more important than a single individual in any organisation and that team work should click. They feel that given a proper business plan, any restaurant should be able to recover its investment within a year.

It all depends on the placement of the organisation and thinking of long term business plan feasibility. The problem Kakshapati sees with restaurants these days is that they are all trying to create employment opportunities for themselves instead of thinking long term and innovatively.

There are currently 14 restaurants operating under the Nanglo chain with all of them doing pretty well. In around five years time, Kakshapati sees himself retiring but Nanglo as a brand continuing to grow. They plan to reopen Nanglo maybe somewhere in the Durbarmarg area as and when time permits. Kakshapati said there had been challenges when they first started because nobody wanted to accept somebody from a different profession and there have been instances when people even looked down upon them and talked behind their backs at public events.

Off late, the Kakshapatis had to go through a series of rumours that questioned their status in the current market but Kakshapati was quick to shrugg off them: “Closing of the cafe and pub was merely a lease issue and not a family dispute.” Gopal Kakshapati is a man who has not only seen the tough times but also went through the challenges that would force an ordinary man to quit. He has been an inspiration, a man who sets benchmark for others to break. A man to emulate.


Words by Samridhi Goyal.

Photos by Pramin.


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Categorised in: Features, People

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