By Ali Usman LAHORE: Mukhtar, considered the pioneer of the home food delivery concept in Lahore, has become a familiar name among Lahoris, particularly among residents of the Defence Housing Authority (DHA).
Hailing from Rahim Yar Khan, Mukhtar Ahmad is believed to deliver food in any locality of the city within an hour the order is placed.
Although some multinational food-chain outlets also offer the home-delivery, their service is limited to specific areas. Mukhtar, however, has taken the concept to new heights of customer convenience.
Mukhtar started his career in the food industry as a waiter nine years ago, and now owns his own restaurant, Hot and Spicy, in the DHA. He calls himself the ‘universal waiter’, and despite hiring many waiters, likes to serve food himself. He has several employees who deliver food on their motorbikes to customers across the city.
“I even deliver food to Shahdara, Jallo and Burki, but most of my clients are in the DHA,” he told Daily Times.
He said that he started working in Lahore as a waiter in 1999 against a daily wage of Rs 30. “I worked in DHA, and used to take orders of all restaurants. Then I thought about taking orders from people on the phone and delivering food. Safdar Leghari, my benefactor, bought me a mobile phone for Rs 6,300 and another friend bought me a connection for Rs 3,000. Then I got an investor and opened my own outlet,” he said. He said that he had paid off all his debts, and now people owed him Rs 1.7 million for having food on credit.
Mukhtar said that success did not come easy, as he had to bear the brunt of ridicule and opposition from his competitors. “They considered me a ‘threat’ to their business and tried to create problems for me, but I never reacted,” he said, adding that many of his customers now considered him a member of their family and loved his food.
Mukhtar’s food is quite popular among students. He delivers food to students at the Kinnaird College, Lahore School of Economics and the Lahore College For Women University, but the students of the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) place more orders than students of any other institute. “Most LUMS boarders place their orders via call and text. Barbeque is their favourite dish,” he said.
Mukhtar said that sometimes the customer’s address was not received properly on the mobile phone, which had caused trouble in the past. “Once a customers asked me to deliver food in DHA’s T-Block, but I understood C-Block. When I rang the doorbell, a lady came out and scolded me for ‘tricking’ her,” he said.
He said that once he went to a customer’s house with a parcel, but saw many waiters of various restaurants standing outside the house, with no costumer present there. “I rung him back and insulted him so much that he changed his mobile phone number,” he said.
Mukhtar said that he had also delivered food to many prominent personalities, including the prime minister and former chief minister Dost Muhammad Khosa.
Mukhtar said that he had also received offers from many investors to open outlets in various cities including Gujranwala, Sialkot and Faisalabad, but he had not yet decided whether he wanted to expand his restaurant to other cities. “I do not want to make decisions in haste. I will think over it,” he said.
Source: Daily times, 20/7/2008