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The Corporate VadaPav

Believed to be invented in 1966, also known as the taste of Mumbai, the Vada Pav has gained the reputation of being the most iconic food of the city.

The intriguing story behind this wide-spread dish originates from a roadside stall, in the area of Dadar in Mumbai.

Working in the mills in and around the areas of Parel and Worli, an enormous amount of workers passed by Dadar each day, for whom it proved to be an easy and pocket-friendly alternative, while also satiating their craving taste buds.

Ashok Vaidya, the parent of this dish, made it an immediate hit among the working class at the time, which would go on to be relished by all strata of society.

The precipitous rise of the dish, however, can be credited to the textile mills’ strikes which took place in the 1970s and 1980s, following which a substantial number of these displaced workers opened vada pav stalls, and understandably so, considering its rise. Vada pav quickly became all-pervasive in major parts of the city, contributing significantly to the informal economy.

Then came the arrival of McDonald's in Mumbai in the 1990s.

Was the vada pav industry under threat? Was its growing stardom already about to plummet?

Absolutely not. The burger proved to be no match for the beloved vada pav. While the concept was similar, the distinction was far too pronounced to be accepted as one for another. The patty didn’t stand a chance against the vada and the sauces failed in comparison to the spices.

So what was next for the vada pav industry?

With a background in Hotel Management, Dheeraj Gupta had no intentions of causing a development in the vada pav industry and followed the footsteps of his family business of selling Indian sweets. However, he decided to set up a sweets brand of his own considering the sweets industry was approximated to be of about 2 billion dollars at the time.

One would assume having your family in the same industry would make things easier but moving forward, a host of problems presented themselves making it an uphill task to make things work. He was in debt of around 15 lakhs and had lost about 55 lakhs in this business which kept sucking in more money.

Long story short, he withdrew from this business. No, it isn’t time for JumboKing just yet. A long respite of almost a year ensued.

He spent this year in gaining some clarity about his next steps, running his MBA studied mind. Just then it hit him. He decided to brand vada pavs.

The early 2000s brought with it the inception of the brainchild of Dheeraj Gupta. Dheeraj saw an opening in this space and franchised the vada pav chain under the name ‘JumboKing’.

With a borrowed fund of about 2 lakhs from his father in 2001, he opened his first outlet outside Malad railway station, with a humble portion of it as his office.

Not surprisingly, JumboKing made profits from the very first day, as vada pav was the single largest sold snack in the city of Mumbai.