MANAGEMENT MANTRA - “Prioritise Customer Service”: Ishaan Bahl, Founder, 145

Inspired by his restaurateur father, Sudheer Behl, Ishaan Bahl ventured into Mumbai’s food and beverage industry at 22. Armed with fresh ideas and experiences from his time in Los Angeles and as an intern at Merrill Lynch in Chicago, he conceptualised 145, a casual neighborhood cafe and bar catering to the millennials. Over the years, Mr Bahl’s vision for 145 has evolved, transforming it from a simple bar into a space where millennials feel at home. Plans are afoot to expand 145 to Delhi, Bengaluru, Goa and Pune, along with a special bakery cloud kitchen and an Asian fine dine restaurant and bar. In an enlightening chat with Sharmila Chand, Mr Bahl discloses his management thoughts and practices that have brought him huge success.


Your five management mantras

Strive for excellence: Our objective as a company is to strive for excellence and aim to achieve perfection.  If we are able to do that, revenue and income will then follow consequently.

Positive attitude: I always tell the team to put its best efforts forward and ensure that we have a positive attitude in our organisation. This transmits to the customer and will help us achieve greater heights.

Work hard: I tell all the senior people in my company to give their 110 per cent and make the results happen, no matter what, because we are in a very competitive field.

Wish we were better: We should not wish that things were easier. Instead, we should wish that we were better. We have to keep striving to be better and better, to innovate, to create and to make a         better version of ourselves so that we can achieve our goals and ensure that we are always at the forefront of what we are trying to do.

Find a way and not an excuse: In the business world, and specifically the industry that we are in, there is absolutely no place for excuses. You either produce results, or your restaurant will end         up in the dustbin of history.


Turning point of your career life

I did have a turning point in my life at the age of 19. When I came back from college, I was doing my first summer internship at Merrill Lynch in Versova (a far-off western suburb of Mumbai). I live in South Bombay in Cuffe Parade and it was a long commute. Waking up at 5:30 every morning, I would take the train to office and be there by around 8:30 am. I would be working up to 6:30 pm, picking up coffee, filing books and taking photocopies of papers. I did this as an intern for three months, and I realised that this was not something that I would want to do all my life. In a way, this internship helped shape my determination and ambition. So, when I returned from college, I had my opportunity with 145 Cafe & Bar. I instantly liked it and said to myself, if I do not make this work, it is very likely that I would be doing something what I did at my internship. So, I decided to work 24 hours a day and ensure that nobody could take 145 away from me. 


Secret of your success

It is pretty much what you need to do to be successful in your life, and that is work hard. I am extremely passionate about what I do. It does not feel like work for me. It is something that I enjoy thoroughly, and I do work extremely hard at it. I like to make sure that we are always on top of our game.


A person you admire the most

Yes, my father. He is my inspiration, and he is everything for me when it comes to work, business or even a personal life. He is certainly one of the most remarkable people that I have met in my lifetime. My father, an IIM graduate from Ahmedabad, started Khyber restaurant, and he played a pivotal role in the inception of 145. I am yet to see my father losing his cool. During COVID, we were not sure whether any of our restaurants would open again. He was extremely calm, and I think that should tell you something about the fortitude of the man even in those trying times.


The best advise you have received

Self-confidence is a superpower. Once you start to believe in yourself, magic starts happening. You truly believe that eventually you have to be your biggest motivator.


Your sounding board

My sounding board would definitely be my father. He is my go-to person for advice in life and in business.


Your favourite book

One of my favorite books is Ikigai, which is the Japanese secret to a joyful life. It basically talks about the four key elements of your life that contribute to a happier life. Doing what you love is your passion. Doing something that the world needs is technically your mission. Doing something what you are good at is your vocation. Doing something what you can get paid for is your profession. It basically refers to things that give our life meaning and purpose.


Your fitness regime

I try to follow a gluten-free, sugar-free and dairy-free diet to the best of my ability. I regularly work out at the gym and enjoy it. I also play paddle tennis, which is a new sport that is on the rise internationally.  There is another sport called pickleball which I love playing.  I play badminton and football as well.  

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