Vineet M. Benny, a young, determined and enterprising restaurateur, discusses Dessert Safari, one of his many ventures.
A juggler. Perhaps not in the literal sense, but that is who Vineet M. Benny is. He is the Director of Operations at the St John’s Dr. Rajkumar International School in Injambakkam, the founder of Design Embassy, a design and content creation firm, the front man of the Chennai-based band The Terrorists and very recently, the founder of Dessert Safari, a charming desserts’ and food joint on Eldams Road. “I’m glad it did not come easy,” says the third-generation entrepreneur of his journey. He shares more with NXg about entrepreneurship and chasing dreams…
The Dessert Safari is almost a year old. Why and how did you take on this expedition?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a specific dream — of owning an exclusive, exquisite and charming restaurant. One particular evening, last year, when my grandmother and I were at home, my father returned with bowls of ice cream for all of us. I observed an almost enigmatic and shy smile spread across my grandmother’s face. It was a rare and special instance, and also one that made me realise that desserts had that ability — the potential to break the barrier of age. This resulted in the translation of my dream into reality and was the starting point of Dessert Safari.
In matters of food, particularly, the city is still far from cosmopolitan. Was this endeavour a gamble?
We were prepared for the worst, and were willing to accept whatever came our way. We are situated on Eldams Road, which is not the most food-friendly locality and certainly not a natural preference for a good meal. But much to our surprise, we were warmly welcomed and eventually accepted, and I can say that, we have been doing incredibly well. Of course, we have had our share of highs and lows. For instance, when we were just four months old, the entire stretch of Eldams Road was closed for renovation for three months, and it was really hard for a new name like ours to survive such a blow. But here we are, planning our first anniversary! We are glad we made it this far.
The menu is a mish-mash of varied delicacies – desserts and food. Was it hard to decide what should go in and what shouldn’t?
It was hard in the sense that it was the only time that made me feel the pressure of being the boss. The menu is an assortment of all that I find fascinating. Though we call ourselves the Dessert Safari, our menu includes various options that people can indulge in – steaks, sandwiches and a selection of pastas. . We are revamping the entire selection for our first anniversary. Beginning an entrepreneurial journey at such a young age must be trying?
The learning has been great – business and otherwise. It took a lot of effort to ease out of the protection of my mother, let go of an already established family business and earn a name for myself. In many ways, I’m glad it did not come easy. But I wish I had started a couple of years ago. Twenty-one was a tad too late!
Naturally, keeping it going must be taking up all of your time, right?
Well, no. During the day, if you catch me with a tie and shiny, pointed shoes, trying to maintain a stern face, I’m on my way to St John’s Dr. Rajkumar International School in Injambakkam, where I head the operations team. I run a design consultation and content creation firm, Design Embassy. And also, I’m the front man of a Chennai-based band called The Terrorists.