Macaron Queen Pooja Dhingra Shuts Le15 Cafe Amidst COVID
Mumbai’s famous Le15 cafe shuts shop after a decade of a successful run due to the impact of coronavirus on restaurant business. Owner and baker Pooja Dhingra revealed the news through a self-written article in travel magazine CNT. She shares as soon as the coronavirus outbreak news hit headlines early March and 40 restaurants in India decided to close down, she realized she would have to do the same with Le15. The Le15 had four outlets in Mumbai. Her patisserie however will continue its regular business.
Pooja Dhingra is among many entrepreneurs in the restaurant businesses taking hard but important decisions about their business.
“I knew, deep down, for the first time that I had to make some hard and rational choices. I put on my business hat and looked at our business purely commercially. I just couldn’t sustain the costs and overheads in a lockdown. The business wouldn’t survive. I knew what had to be done,” Dhingra writes.
In an interview with SheThePeople, just a month ago, she had explained the dire situation for restaurant owners during the lockdown. “It is a stressful situation for any business owner. Like, we don’t know what’s gonna happen, all the bills are piling up. So, it’s definitely a tough time. It’s kind of important to figure out how to find the balance between knowing what is happening, figuring out a plan for yourself, speaking to the people who are going through the same situation, so you don’t feel alone. Do what’s important for you.”
In the heartfelt write-up, she recounted her journey for Le15 cafes and how she grew along the passage of time and how she had just celebrated 10th year anniversary of the shop. “For seven years at Le15, I didn’t earn much from the company. I always put everyone else before myself.” She talks about the hard work behind building a brand putting together. “I worked long and hard hours. I wish I knew how to work smarter. I wish someone had told me the importance of not trusting too much, of learning the tiny, intricate details of my business. Yes, our numbers started out great. But (as most business horror stories start) there was an accountant that I trusted too much,” she wrote in the article.
Over the last few years, as the digital influencers’ business bloomed, Le15 and Pooja got a personal fan base. Her instagram page has kept many busy at their ovens during this pandemic giving simple recipes for people to try and experiment with. From influencer folks to Bollywood celebrity, Dhingra’s macarons found a sweet spot in everyone’s hearts. But like the pandemic has hit business across the world, it didn’t spare this special bakery shop in Mumbai too.
It’s kind of important to figure out how to find the balance between knowing what is happening, figuring out a plan for yourself – Pooja Dhingra to SheThePeople in March
Dhingra, who is a recipient of the Digital Women Awards, recently spoke at the event in Nov 2019. She talked of being a prudent entrepreneur. “Firstly, find something that you love and keep it real. Build a brand around something that you are truly and completely compassionate about. It could be anything – cars to cooking – but when it’s done with utmost passion and authenticity, it really shows through your work.”
India’s very first macaron queen has shown that decisions must be taken at the right time. Even as she shuts the physical form of her bakery, we look forward to her continuing her baking business in new and different ways. Wishing you the best Pooja. [Picture Credit: Outlook]
— SheThePeople (@SheThePeople) November 23, 2019