Mohabbat Deep Singh Cheema and Manpreet Kaur, 36, are residents of Punjab. Deep Singh drives a food truck. Deep Singh’s wife, Manpreet Kaur, says she was hesitant to tell people her husband runs a food truck for a long time. She says: “It wasn’t that I was embarrassed, but I didn’t want to tell anyone for fear of people making fun of me.”
Deep lost his job during the COVID-19 lockdown. After losing his job, Deep moved to his village Dhilwan in Punjab and started a food truck there called Pizza Factory. The specialty of this food truck is that you can enjoy unlimited pizza, burgers and fries here for just Rs.199.
Deep, who started it in August 2020 with an investment of Rs 4 lakh, today earns around Rs 2 lakh per month. But today Manpreet is very proud of her husband’s work. She says that today people recognize her as Deep’s wife and she is happy when people lick their fingers and eat the pizza sold from her husband’s food truck.
Speaking to The Better India, Deep explains that he was born in Dhilwan, Punjab. When he was four years old, he moved to Delhi with his uncle and aunt. He spent almost four years of his life in Delhi/NCR. He completed his studies in Delhi itself and then did many types of jobs.
After completing his 12th standard from a school in Delhi, Deep started working in a multinational company with a monthly salary of Rs 5,000. He says, “I completed my graduation along with work. After my studies, I got a job in an IT management company.
Starting work early was both a choice and a necessity for Deep. He said, “I was living with my uncle and I didn’t like asking him for money, so I started working.”
At that time, she did not want to go back to Punjab and so her only option was to work and take care of herself.
“Losing 2.5 thousand jobs was nothing less than a shock”
Deep says that he always felt that his parents didn’t care much for him and when they sent him to live with his uncle, he felt worse. He says, “Even after working hard to establish my security and my job, when I lost my job, my salary was around Rs 2.5 lakh and losing that financial security was a shock to to me”.
Deep further explains that losing his job was definitely a big setback for him, but he soon realizes that he is not the only one going through this difficult time. Many more people face similar difficulties. Then he decided to return to Punjab.
His plan was to stay a few weeks in his village, but from there his life took a new turn. Deep belongs to a joint family and the family owns more than 100 acres of agricultural land in Dhaliwal. Despite this, he never wanted to dedicate himself to agriculture. He says, “I’m not cut out for this and I’ve decided to get away from it.”
People made fun of starting the food truck
Deep traveled extensively during this time and had the opportunity to sample a variety of cuisines. He discovered that there were no better pizzas, burgers and fries in many places and so he thought of starting a food truck with these dishes.
Deep explains: “What was being sold in the name of pizza and hamburger was very wasteful. I wanted to change that.” Deep started the food truck with Rs 3 lakh for himself and Rs 1 lakh for his wife, which is a total of Rs 4 lakh. He says, “Food truck culture was very prevalent in Delhi/NCR. From Chinese food to kathi rolls, you could sample all kinds of food there.”
However, Deep explains that when he debuted in Dhaliwal, the reactions were not very good. He says that “people had a lot of fun. I even predicted earlier that this work would fail miserably.”
Deep explains: “When I started, I faced many challenges. The biggest challenge among them was the mindset of the people. They used to call my food truck rehri (street vendor) and call me hamburger pizza wala. He made all kinds of efforts to humiliate me, but my determination to do this job was very strong”.
Deep wanted to do hotel management since childhood
Deep says that the first few months were very tough as he had to start everything from ground zero. People didn’t particularly like eating pizza and hamburgers. It was indeed a crowd, always enjoying samosas, pakodas and tea. Here I was trying to give them some new dishes and tastes. Deep then offered to attract more people to try his cuisine and priced his menu at Rs 199.
He says: “The most anyone has ever eaten is four pizzas, burgers and fries. No one can eat more than that. It was also a father-son duo who had come to meet me.” The only policy adopted by Deep is “No Waste, No Leftovers Policy”. In other words, you have to eat the food you want, you can’t take the leftovers home.
Cooking at home for family members and cooking for a living are two different things and Deep understood that long ago. He says: “When I was at school, I wanted to do hotel management and enjoy cooking. But the circumstances at the time did not allow me to do so, so my passion for cooking and for it was left behind”.
“Ranveer Brar My Guru and I His Eklavya”
Whatever Deep has learned, he credits his mentor and chef Ranveer Brar. He says, “He is my guru and I am his Eklavya. Everything I know about cooking is from his YouTube videos. From using ready-made pizza bases to learning how to knead dough, everything is learned from his videos tutorials”.
Harvinder Singh is one of those customers who visit the food truck at least once a week. He says, “I’ve been going to the food truck for a long time. Although their pizzas and burgers taste good, but I like the garlic bread better. I’ve never tasted anything like it before. Even the amount they charge is so cheap that even spending twice a week doesn’t burden their pocket.”
She adds, “Most of all, Deep paaji (brother) is very welcoming and always speaks well. It makes my day.”
Where and when is this food truck located?
Seeing the success of the pizza truck, Deep says four more food trucks have also started here. He says, “I am happy that the mindset is changing. Cooking and serving is a wonderful thing and I don’t understand why it is looked down upon. Today, Deep’s Dhaliwal Junction is known as ‘Pizza-Burger Junction.’
Now people come here not only to eat pizza and burgers, but also to meet Deep and learn how to start a food truck business. “I have called people from Gorakhpur just to understand the business practices,” he says.
Manpreet also said that his daughters are so inspired by their father that they often play the game of business. “Seeing that gives me confidence that I’m doing the right thing,” he says.
Paneer Makhani Pizza is their most successful dish and there is a get one free offer on Wednesday and on that day the food truck is usually packed. The food truck is open every day from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
You can visit Toll Plaza, Grand Trunk Road, Dhilwan, Punjab – 144804 for Pizza Factory.
Original article: Vidya Raja
Editing: Archana Dubey
Also Read: Asia’s First Food Truck Launched In Bangalore All Members Are Women.