Nakul Meherish with a copy of the Harvard Business Review in which Raju Omlet’s case study has been published Image Credit: Atiq ur Rehman/XPRESS

Dubai: In a first for the UAE, a local restaurant chain has earned the distinction of being featured as a case study in the prestigious Harvard Business Review (HBR).

With three outlets across Dubai (Karama and Al Quoz) and Sharjah (Safeer Mall), and two more coming up shortly (Jumeirah Lake Towers and Business Bay), the eggetarian chain Raju Omlet made it to the Boston-based magazine last June bringing into focus the question of a restaurant’s viability with a single product offering.

Dubai resident Rajiv Meherish, who set up Raju Omlet with his son Nakul, said, “It was perhaps interesting to see how a restaurant could survive by selling only egg preparations and also find out what the future held.”

Egg variations

Nakul said, “Keeping in mind the law of diminishing marginal utility, we have consciously tried to innovate and add items to our menu which had only 11 dishes at the outset. Today, the menu lists over 60 items. We have everything from a power omelette for the health conscious to a gravy omelette for those who want a new twist to the good old eggs.”

Nakul said before Raju Omlet featured in HBR, it was publsihed as a case study in Ivey Publishing as well. Both the studies were co-authored by a Dubai-based communications professor, Dr Kirti Khanzode.

Dr Khanzode said she was drawn to do the case studies by many factors. “I first heard of Raju Omlet on a radio ad when I was driving from Sharjah to Dubai. The ad (one in a series of four) highlighted the health benefits of consuming eggs, rather than promote the restaurant. When I visited the Karama outlet, I loved everything about the place: the food, preparations, service and ambience. I immediately knew I wanted to write about it.”

Freshly prepared

The restaurant, which caters to people of all nationalities, claims its egg dishes are all freshly prepared to adapt to the different tastes of its customers. The dishes, typically served with pavs or parathas (Indian bread), are priced between Dh10 and Dh22. A cup of freshly made tea comes for Dh4.50.

“We are known for our chais (teas) which come in five varieties – kadak (strong), masala (spicy), pudina (mint), elaichi (cardamom) and adrak (ginger). We will soon introduce the Kashmiri chai,” added Nakul.

Raju Omlet takes great pride in its rustic and quirky décor, with antique and eclectic pieces of art bought from the bizarre Chor Bazaar of Mumbai.

Rajiv said, “We wanted to bring the concept of a quirky décor, quite popular in India, to the UAE. So we handpicked items that were sold off by old families. We even hung their timeless pictures at an angle on the wall, like they did back in the day. In the Sharjah outlet alone, we have 110 frames, one of which is nearly 100 years old. Even our nameplate has been created by joining railway sleeper planks which in their new avatar hang from the ceiling with the help of rugged iron chains.”

Inspiration

Rajiv recollected how Raju Omlet drew its name and inspiration from a roadside cafetaria in India.

“I was biding time in the city of Vadodara four years ago when the driver of an autorickshaw I happened to be traveling in stopped by this cafe. I read the board outside and realised it was not the place for me as I don’t eat eggs. But with time on my hands, I walked in hoping to get a cup of tea. The place did not serve tea but made an exception for me,” he said.

As Rajiv got talking to the cafetaria owner, one thing led to another and Raju Omlet’s Karama outlet was born in a few months.

Dr Khanzode said, “I found the entrepreneurial vision intriguing. A simple idea from Vadodara had been picked up and so beautifully scaled up to suit a place like Dubai. ”