Conversations with IWBS – Rakshay Dhariwal

Rakshay Dhariwal, Managing Director, Pass Code Hospitality

Rakshay Dhariwal is a Delhi based entrepreneur, whose ventures focus on luxury-lifestyle in the hospitality industry. He started his career in 2008 with Ayurvedic Wellness Centers in Delhi. In 2012 he made his mark on the F&B industry in India by launching the award winning speakeasy-styled cocktail bar, PCO. He has interests in the luxury beauty and grooming space with a Salon & Spa at the prestigious DLF Emporio Mall. Over the past several years, he has scaled up his F&B interests with ventures in Delhi, Kolkata and Goa which include the award winning – Jamun, Ping’s Cafe Orient and SAZ. Apart from his successful catering vertical, in 2019 he forayed into events as the co-founder of India Cocktail Week

Rakshay has lived and studied in India, Australia, South Africa, Hungary, Philippines, Singapore and the USA. He studied Marketing in Telecommunications from Indiana University – Bloomington. He can often be found in the private room of PCO, sampling cocktails and writing his next business plan.

What’s the best part about being in restaurant business?

You get to eat and drink for a living. Whoever said you can’t get high off your own supply clearly hadn’t figured out the art. 

What is the one thing that you wish to keep in all your restaurants?

PCO, Speakeasy styled bar in Delhi

A healthy bottom line? Lol. Jokes apart, every time I start a new restaurant – I make sure it is a niche offering that cannot be found anywhere else in the city or country.

Given a chance to establish a restaurant in any part of the world, -what would be your choice city and why?

Very subjective question as everything boils down to the investment size. If that weren’t a constraint, I’d go straight to Soho, London. You can’t go wrong there with a good product. As long as your rent is controlled, your menu is engineered efficiently, you’re staffed smartly, you’re bound to be quite profitable.

What is the most unique restaurant you have ever been to?

DriverXO is a three michelin starred restaurant in Madrid

It would have to be DiverXO in Madrid. The 20-odd course meal was exquisite, exciting, and overall a novel experience. It was a bit of theatre with a lot of incredible trickery on the menu. A piece of advice – do not go there if you’re afraid of eating things you’re not accustomed to. 

As a leader, do you have any post covid suggestions for the hospitality industry?

The Hospitality industry? Will that even exist soon? Lol. If you’re just starting off, try and get out of this country – the opportunities are far better abroad where governments value the role of this industry, and how it plays an important role in the development of the nation.

What’s your favourite tipple at the end of a busy day?

Ever changing – current tipple of choice is a Barrel-Aged Mezcal Negroni.

What is your advice to people envisaging a startup in this space?

Jamun, Lodhi Colony, New Delhi

Not worth the hassle in this country. The government is better than Warne and Murali put together. You won’t see the googlies till they catch you clean bowled. If you have no option, like me, and you have to operate here – I’d suggest plan for the worst, and if your business plan still makes sense – go ahead. But keep in mind, what can go wrong, will go wrong, so be prepared to make adjustments to your business plans without emotion.


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