As they say, some people come in your life like a breath of fresh air and Fatema is one of them. It was a chance meeting when I along with my cofounding partner Preeti of KARMBHOOMI were looking for a venue to host an event. There is an upcoming new mall on the western side of Ahmedabad and we were keen to host our event there. Before meeting Fatema, we visited few other cafe owners but somehow nothing was finalized. Her cafe named "Ludo Queens Cafe" painted in bright colours caught our attention. We went to explore and the manager gave us her number. She told us to wait as she was on her way to the cafe. While waiting for her in the cafe, we felt very positive vibes in the place. She came with a broad smile and there was an instant connection. We had tea together. She also served us with some of her signature dishes. And we struck the deal. Our event at her cafe was a hit and we kept in touch since then.
|Sisters - Fatema & Tasneem, Owners of Ludo Queens Cafe|
I had started this series of " What's Cooking" with women home chefs. A lot of them talked about owning a cafe of their own one day. I used to share my blogposts with Fatema also, where she asked me once -"Ma'am I would like to be part of this series. Do I qualify?"
At that point of time, I had a long listof home chefs who had contacted me to get coverage in the series. But it was always in the back of my mind to write about her. Had these been pre-Covid days, this interaction would be taking place in perfect ambience of LQC instead of on whatsapp and over calls. :(
This is the story of two sisters, Fatema and Tasneem residing miles apart but having the same passion for cooking. Fatema, the younger sister is based in Ahmedabad and Tasneem is in Kuwait.
Petpuja: This is a brave step Fatema ! Are you a professionally trained person or is it your hobby which has become your profession?
Fatema: Its simply our hobby or rather our passion which has turned into our profession.
Petpuja:Did you have any fears before starting this new venture?
Fatema: Frankly speaking NO fears at all. With such a solid mutual support between sisters and brother- in-law along with the blessings of our parents, there was no place for any fears or apprehensions of failure. We started with a motto - "We can , We will".
Fatema: Freshly cooked food served straight from the kitchen! We believe in serving quality food and use all fresh ingredients to achieve delightful taste. No frozen or pre-prepared sauces etc. are used. Of course hygiene comes first, and we also believe in zero waste of food.
Petpuja: Pls share your journey as an entrepreneur.
Fatema: His Holiness teaches us “don’t be service minded be business minded”. When we got this opportunity to fulfil our dream, we decided to go slow-n-steady. We were very well prepared mentally for all the pros and cons which we are going to face in our journey. We were not a brand yet and no one knew about LQC. It was a great challenge for us to survive and make a place in the F&B industry. But our main strength was our unity and understanding of the market which played a key role for us to be at the position where we are today. Though miles apart but thanks to the technology which kept us in touch with each other in every phase of our struggle. As I said we were no brand so it was a bit difficult for us in the beginning as these days people don’t trust new names very easily. Our chef is one of our biggest strengths. We had full trust in him and he is always ready for all the challenges we gave him. LQC has just started its journey so still there is a long way to go.
Petpuja: Over the years, how do you perceive the changes in the food market?
Fatema: Food hygiene is the top priority. As people are becoming more health conscious and at the same time they want new and trendy dishes. Experimentation and innovation are the keys to survive in the F&B industry .
Petpuja: What is the signature cuisine of LQC?
Fatema: We serve Mexican, Italian and Chinese cuisines at our café. Our chef is excellent in all cuisines but his speciality is Mexican. We at LQC believe in learning new variety of foods, thus continuously upgrading our menu. We put special emphasis on plating to please the eyes of our customers and satisfy their taste buds .
Petpuja: What are your future plans?
Fatema:We belong to Bohra Community where we have a unique system of dining in a thaal (a big thaali from which 8-9 people share their food altogether). In todays' world the value of being together seems to be losing its place. Our future plan is to introduce our unique tradition, our versatile food and our values of brotherhood and sharing. We have already launched our baby venture, XOTIC BOHRI THAAL, where we provide catering of authentic exotic bohri cuisine which in future we would like to take to another level by introducing the concept of home dining.
Fatema: Well, since we have started our café, we have always kept our staff’s personal hygiene, café’s cleanliness and best quality raw food material as some of our top priorities. We don’t buy frozen items and mostly we make everything in-house to ensure that hygiene is maintained to provide our customers a perfectly healthy and satisfied meal.
Petpuja: How do you take critical comments from clients?
Fatema: Criticism is the key step to improvment. We take critical comments very positively and assure the client that we will improve on the same
Petpuja: We would like you to share some interesting recipe with our readers.
Fatema: I am sharing an easy to make and very popular recipe of LQC.
TOMATO BASIL BRUCHETTAS
1/3rd Garlic loaf
2-3 Garlic cloves (finely chopped)
2tsp Olive oil
1 Medium size diced tomato
½ Lemon juice
10 Fresh basil leaves
1tsp Chilli flakes
Salt & Pepper as per taste
Grated Parmesan Cheese for garnishing
1. Cut 5 slices of bread from the garlic loaf.
2. In a small pan take 1tsp of olive oil and saute chopped garlic till it turns slight brown.
3. In a bowl take diced tomatoes, fresh basil leaves, lemon juice, chilli flakes, 1tsp olive oil and salt & pepper.
4. Also add the sautéed garlic in it and toss it.
5. Put some tomato basil mixture on each bread slice.
6. Sprinkle grated parmesan cheese on it.
7. Bake the bread slices till it becomes golden n crispy and the cheese melts.
Mouth-watering yummilicious LQC’s chef’s special tomato basil bruchettas are ready….. 😋😋
Fatema: We very clearly remember a day before the inauguration of our café. A couple came to our café enquiring about party offers for their son’s birthday party. We offered them “Pesto Pasta” one of our chef’s speciality. They just loved the taste and our hospitality. While discussing we also told them about out “zero food waste” concept. They were totally impressed overall. What touched our heart was they gave us Rs. 100/- as a shagun and their best wishes. We had not yet started our café but still had started making our family. We still have that 100 rupee note with us.
Petpuja: What kind of support are you getting from your family?
Fatema: Our family is our backbone. Without their support we would not have been able to do anything. Our parents have always encouraged us to do whatever we dreamt and guided us. My brother in law, Tasneem’s husband was always there for both of us to guide us with his vast experience in this line and support us financially. We started from scratch but he always had faith in our capabilities. He encouraged us at every step and brought the best out of us.
Fatema: Yes we have also suffered in this pandemic and are on the verge of shutting down the cafe because it is hard to survive especially for a 7 month old cafe . We are trying different strategies and ways to attract new customers. We have created various combos, offers and discounts on delivery as well to attract the customers and survive. Here i would like to emphasise that we are following all advised protocols about maintaining hygiene for the safety of our valuable customers. Hopefully we will get through this critical phase.
Petpuja: What is your message to women who may be exploring food as a business?
Fatema: I would like to tell everyone who wants to explore food business that they should not consider this just a business. In India, we believe in "Atithi Devo bhav", so serve your customers with all your heart and warmth. You will be blessed with "barkat" that is prosperity with satisfaction.