Finalists for the Wyndham Business Awards were recently announced. We at Stockland Point Cook were proud to see several of our retailers be named as finalists.
We sat down with Balkrishnan (Bali) & his wife Anupam from Priya Indian Restaurany, who have owned the business for 9 years.
What inspired you to go into the food industry?
Bali: I’d been trained & working as a mechanical engineer & came here on a skilled migration in the 90s. Australia was in recession that time & then I retrained in hospitality, working for big companies. My interest developed in Asian cooking, particularly Indian cooking. My goal was to create that upmarket, fine dining restaurant & that dream has come true.
Anupam: We have our small restaurant in Sydenham, that’s the first restaurant, we opened it in 2004. There was a sign up Priya Indian Restaurant opening soon. We were driving past & we thought ok this is a good place to have a restaurant, so whoever is opening here they’re going to be very successful. I said ok, don’t worry, whoever is opening, is opening for us. It was a joke. After 1 year that restaurant came up for sale & (we) went there & bought the place, so that’s how Priya came around (to) us. We opened the doors & in 2 years we were doing really well. (Bali) was in the kitchen, his recipes & everything was going well. And I was front of house, that’s how we started.
Bali: This is the 2nd time we’ve been nominated, (for the Wyndam Business Awards) we won last year. Honestly, we never, ever enter any awards. My daughter last year said, why don’t you do something so more people know about it, go for award sort of thing. I said the people know. When we entered we realised we were ignoring a very important corner of the business. It was a very good for the staff working there, they get the recognition. This award is not for us only, it’s for the team.
What are you most proud of with Priya?
Bali: I cannot put my finger on only 1 area. My main area I’m proud of is the consistency of food, we maintain it. The reason is because I’m a chef also, so whoever comes to work or cook, they have to follow the same recipes. That is the key. You will find the same flavour is going on (whenever you come).
Anupam: When we open the doors, good food is always the key but to keep it consistent is the hardest thing to do & we realise at the same time that this is the first key to run a successful business. The second thing is the service. Once you enter Priya’s door, you won’t go unhappy. We try our best so that when you leave you have a smile on your face & a full tummy.
Bali: it doesn’t come randomly, we invest in skilled workers, that’s very important. We don’t take short cuts with the quality of food & the staff training.
What does this nomination mean to you?
Anupam: It’s a big recognition for us. It brings us promotion. Puts people’s trust in the restaurant. When you are doing hard work, you have to put yourself out there to show what you’re doing.
There are customers, they were married when they first came, then they had the baby & she started eating & her favourite was the coconut crab. That’s the kid you need, who goes for expensive food. And I remember as a baby, she was sitting there & with her two fingers she’s trying to pick at the food, eating & now she’s using the knife & fork. Now she has a little brother & she’s trying to teach him how to eat the coconut crab. So that’s the journey we have gone through, she knows the whole restaurant. Her mum said you have to have some boy for her who can cook Indian food.
When people think of Priya, what do you want them to think of?:
Anupam: It’s like a second home.
Bali: First thing that comes in their mind is we want to go to Priya for food.
Anupam: We are very proud of our service, so when the customers come in the restaurant they know how we serve them.
Bali: A lot of parents are coming to see their families (in the area), people come they say Bali, my mum & dad are here from the UK, from London & they say the best curry comes from there & I say, you come over here, we’ll show you where the best curry is.
Anupam: I’ll tell you the name, Priya’s name, what it means. My daughter, last week she went to a night club & over there some guys were sitting there & from there they look at her & go Oh, Priya, butter chicken & she goes I’m not Priya & I’m not butter chicken. Because they come here & straightaway their mind goes to food. So that’s the brand awareness out there for us.
What does Priya actually mean?
Priya is a very common name for a girl in India. It means your beloved or a girlfriend, this is my darling. So when the first restaurant was opened, (the original owner) had only one daughter & her name was Priya, so he named it after her. When he sold the restaurant to us, the girl comes up to Bali & says are you going to change the name of this restaurant? With the big googly eyes. Bali thinks for a minute & he says no. That’s why we never changed the name & we kept the same name & it made her happy as well. But it’s very lucky for us. So that little girl, she was very lucky for us.