By ANJALI NAURIYAL
Meet Sumit Khandelwal, a young man in his 30s, who studied at the famed ‘The Doon School’, apprenticed at his father’s Gupta Sweets, and grew up to be business-ready to set up the sparkling Anandam Chain!
He always wanted to be a Halwai:
This was the only world Sumit Khandelwal had known since childhood! He had known no other world. He saw at close quarters the family dynamics of running Gupta Sweets, its challenging physical work and strenuous existence, and even lack of regular amenities and comforts. But regardless of any thought to social status, he decided to pursue the family business path, with the rare conviction that a son’s chief karma is supporting his father’s toil and grind, with firm determination.
“I thoroughly enjoyed watching the gamut of activities that went on during the entire process of mithai-making. I would love to sit with the karigars and help in whatever way I could. The variety, diversity and myriad colours and glaze of sweets and hands rolling out stuff on giant slabs, with all kinds of machines in action, got to me and I was caught in a web of wonderment. And I was sure I wanted to be a Halwai,” shares the third generation businessman. “I was proud of my family work and even my friends knew it. My friends at The Doon School and I have a WhatsApp group where we imitate the ‘Tongue-Out’ Logo of Gupta Sweets in honour of the mouth watering sweets on offer.”
100 years’ candy history in town:
Gupta Sweets was once a famous Namkin outlet of Doon. Its history traces way back to the year 1901, when Sumit’s grandfather, Prahlad Swaroop Gupta, set up shop at Purani Subzi Mandi, Dehradun, and soon became famous as Prahlad Rewari Wale. A freedom fighter and an Arya Samaji, he outclassed all competition by creating the most delectable varieties of Rewaries and Gajak. Prahlad Rewari Wale’s public relation skills, his honesty and soft-spokenness helped expand his business by leaps and bounds, and his firm’s name, Gadarmal Ganeshi Lal became a famous brand.
Years down the line, Prahlad Swaroop Gupta opened Gupta Sweets (in the year 1930). His son, Anand Swaroop Gupta, joined his father in 1974 and following in his footsteps, he gradually managed to turn ‘Gupta Sweets’ into a favourite brand name of Doon. Anand Gupta, like his father, believed in the ‘quality’ of his products and soon conquered the hearts and tastes of his customers. Shortly, the Gupta brand of sweets and namkeen began selling not only in Dehradun, but also all across India.
Brand Anandam lighting a spark:
Sumit challenged himself to take on far greater responsibility, and with a heightened sense of duty, he merged the past and the present candy initiatives of his family, in surprising and powerful new ways. “I knew I was more than ready to take on the reins of a business handed down to the family, from my grandfather,” Sumit explains. “My father sent me to the hills to see how we could send Namkin to places like Uttarkashi and Joshimath. I soon discovered that ours was a small brand. I was fired by the desire to make it big. It was when I went to Delhi to get details of an RO plant that I saw how the big names such as Bikanerwala, Nirulas, and Haldiram operated. This greatly inspired me and I began working hard on a roadmap to a similar initiative,” he adds.
For years, now, Sumit has worked round the clock to give life to his vision. Anandam, his dream project, got underway once the groundwork was ready. “The name Anandam was born out of my father’s name,” he informs. We modified it symbolically to mean ‘a giver of pleasure’. Anandam is a tribute to the tough grind that my father underwent to keep the family legacy going.”
In no time, Anandam was the new address in town. A progressive thinking, laptop-toting youngster had created family history by setting up something entirely in tune with the demands of 21st century clients. “It was everything that clients of contemporary times envisaged. We created a destination equipped with ACs, lively décor, cozy atmosphere, soft lightings, paintings and murals. We created elegant interiors where fine art and pictorial history of Gupta Sweets are set to give a feel of ‘continuity of tradition’. Top interior decorators were enlisted to design the place. The murals, luminous shades and the like have been designed to create an overall pleasing and welcoming impact. Even the menu card has been designed as a well cooked Chapatti and looks like a collectors’ item. ”
Today, Anandam, with the third outlet planned by 2020, is amongst the fastest growing food destinations in Uttarakhand, with its delicious range of authentic Indian range of food.
Quality makes the big story possible:
The biggest challenge at Anandam today is maintaining quality, states Sumit’s father, Anand Swaroop Gupta. “Our focus at all times is maintaining quality and taste. There has to be a recall value attached to food. If not, then the clients will not return. Also, most service work done by our staff is of true value and physically daunting. I realise that staff has to take-and-pass-on work with efficiency for Anandam to succeed. For any mission to prosper, the full participation and cooperation of each member is important. For this reason we look after our staff well and are humane in our approach,” he adds.
Sumit particularly states that food items are prepared using RO water, which is something unheard of in the restaurant trade. Both, Sumit and his father personally supervise quality control. Recipes of sweets and masalas are a closely guarded secret, which only the two know. Proficient cooks have been brought in from different states, in order that each state dish carries its authentic and original flavour. For our customers, the experience of eating at Anandam has to be memorable. And, finally, the greatest plus point of the place is that the customers find the rates fairly reasonable,” he avers.
“I must credit my mother Sushma and wife Vertica for being the pillars of strength behind me in fulfilling the above,” declares Sumit.
“Mom can always be seen standing behind us, like a Rock of Gibraltar. She is the critic of the family. She is critical about everything unimpressive or substandard that we do. We need a critic, also, to become better.”
“Vertica plays a proactive role in supporting everything that I do. She designed our complete range of boxes and gift trays most aesthetically,” he adds. “Vertica has given me a positive approach in whatever I do and she has been the force driving Anandam,” Sumit signs off.
Shortly, Anandam would be launching online and the brand is all geared to deliver its best-sellers pan India. For Doonites, there would be over 300 items to choose from.