Interview with Allen Diwan, owner of Diwan’s.
Studied at the medical school, leaded successful restaurants, this time people were learned by him the secrets of Indian kitchen. Who is Allen Diwan?
Allen Diwan is not a usual expat in Hungary. He is now a leader of the unique Indian Rooftop Kitchen, where we met. From here almost the whole Budapest can be seen. Beside this wonderful panorama people who can or can’t cook, have occasion to get insight the Indian kitchen. We were talking with Allen Diwan.
- Where are you from?
Form Pakistan. I was born in Kuwait.
- When did you arrive to Hungary and what brought you here?
I came here in 1998 to be a student at the university. I wanted to be a doctor. Hungarian medical school is great; I was happy to get the chance studying in Budapest.
- Have you ever been an expatriate elsewhere?
Yes, in England and another country in Europe. For longer and shorter time also. But the most time I spent in Hungary. I had enterprises there. But that is an expensive county, and I wanted something other. I travelled also being participant of a mission expedition.
- Have you arrived originally to be an expatreneur or this was not your No. 1 priority?
No. I arrived to Budapest to study at the medical school. I didn’t want to be an entrepreneur that time.
- As of business: what is your business field?
I am working in hospitality. I led restaurants, but now rather have the Indian Rooftop Kitchen. This is not a small restaurant, we have cooking classes, where participants get an opportunity to understand how Indian food is spiced and the methodology behind the wonderful cuisine. It all ends well when you appreciate all the effort you have put in the preparation by enjoying a delightful meal together. So they enjoy the authentic flavours of India over amazing rooftop views of Budapest.
- Why did you choose this business? There is a lot of difference between medical school and hospitality.
I had not opportunity after 2 years when I had started the medical school to continue that.
I was praying, and then came the answer: to be an entrepreneur. So because of God’s inspiration. In 2001 I was the owner of a small restaurant in Budapest.
- What was the most difficult to solve when you started your company in Hungary?
There was most of problems that time. I was a student without any experience and knowledge about business. During doing my business turned out some rules, I had not known before.
- How did you find a solution?
Unfortunately, usually just subsequently. I had to pay the penalty. I knew my purpose, and so all of my businesses had income for the first time, so I don’t have thoughts to give up.
- What are today’s challenges?
Today, there’s no formal problems. Being an entrepreneur is never easy, but now is not so hard. After that mission expedition I mentioned above when I came back, did not wanted to build a big enterprise. A small restaurant also need many people: waiters, cookers, chef, cleaning staff… That is the reason, why I choose to have a cooking school.
- How many employees do you work with?
This is a small business now. We are working in this with my wife, and we have 3 employees. Now I don’t want to grow more, that’s enough.
- What surprised you the most about Hungary?
I had a cultural shock because that community where I came from has other rules. Here on the street people are allowed to hugging, kissing each other. And for example in my hometown members of a community are knowing each other. Here I lived some house, and could not mention all of my neighbours’ names. But it isn’t problem, both culture is just other.
- What is your favourite Hungarian food?
Sweets and cakes. For example, Dobos, Esterházi cake.
- What about Hungarian wines? Do you have a favourite?
I don’t consume alcohol.
- What do you miss most from home?
That neighbourliness what I mentioned above.
- What’s your favourite thing about being an expat in Hungary?
Budapest is wonderful and Hungarian have freedom. And here is peace. I came from a county, where there is not peace, there is war, I can appreciate the peace here. Usually Hungarians don’t know, what that means and there is panic when something happens in abroad. But what here is that no reason to fear, I see. Where I came from, we were in everyday danger. I am grateful to living in Hungary, in a peaceful county.
- What would you do different now than in the beginning regarding your business or career?
I would be more careful.
- What are your hobbies?
Writing and keeping sermons, walking at the riverside.
- Buda or Pest?
Buda is better for living, Pest is for entertainment and parties. But I am living in Pest because I like parties. J No, that time is over. Now just because of tourists are here in Pest.
- Do you have or plan to start any CSR activities?
I was participant of a mission some years ago. And now I lead a little community, where I am the pastor. We come together 2-3 times each week. For me is important to serve. There are two little groups, with only 10-15 members. We reading Bible, and talking about the actual themes.
- If you could go back in time to start your business in Hungary from the beginning, do you see the sense to work with a business management agency like Business Management Hungary?
Yes, starting the business would be much easier. Less problem, less penalty.
Business Management Hungary