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I am pretty critical in the restaurants and food joints where I choose to eat. My vectors of evaluation, great food at value prices and good service. I care little for ambience or 5 star status. I will add more details like detailed addresses and phone numbers after my next visit.

Dangi Pattice : This is a one product shop that serves only Pattice. The Pattice is a spiced potato filling (Batata Bhaji) between slices of bread dipped in gram flour batter and fried. They are open from 8am to noon in the morning and 4pm to 6pm in the evening. On Sunday mornings be sure to fight for some in a mob and highly recommended you visit on any day other than Sunday. The shop is off Senapati Bapat Road, turn left at Vetal Chowk when proceeding from Chaturshingi temple to Symbiosis, proceed about 50 meters towards Deep Bungalow, shop is on the right side. They are also an excellent business case study on Focus, where their lifeline is one product and no insurance policy. The bakery next door carries 100’s of products and wears a deserted look.

Polka Dots : Its a multicuisne restaurant serving Chinese, Thai, Indian and Italian. They do not have everything under the Sun like the Shetty Udipi Restaurants. Very popular with younsters and those that have some original taste. Polka Dots is owned and run by a former chef of Taj Blue Diamond, Ravi Arora. It is located at Parihar Chowk in Aundh and be prepared to wait at least half an hour on Friday and Saturday evenings.

Bina’s Golconda : If you are looking for authentic Hyderabadi food in Pune head straight for Golconda at ABC farms on North Main Road in Koregaon Park. Golconda is an open air restuarant, surrounded by greenery. The area is spacious with ample and comfortable seating. The décor is rustic and prices are very reasonable and food is wonderfully spiced and very authentic. They also run the restaurant in Poona Club.

Ranjai Garden : For some great mutton – bhakri please visit Ranjai Garden on the Mumbai Pune Highway. The restaurant is at the intersection of Hinjewadi Flyover and the Mumbai Pune Bypass road. Coming from Chandini Chowk it is on the left hand side just after the flyover. Please note the ambience is that of a dhaba and I generally like to eat and pay for great value food and not ambience. The exact address is Mumbai Bangalore Highway, Wakad, Pune 57 and their numbers are 2293 3927 and cell contact is 98 226 45512.

New Friends Hotel : Limited non-veg menu on Gokhale Road opposite Om Super Market. Hard to find, first looks can be deceiving. Ambience very ordinary, but clean food is served in Thali style. Non veg meal will not cost more than Rs 75 and is frequented by many blue collar workers. Lot of people do take out instead of dining in. Phone No : 56263465

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I had not heard about WestJet, till I read about them in Reader’s Digest. WestJet is a maverick low cost carrier born in 1996 with 3 planes and 220 employees and serviced 5 western cities. WestJet is a low cost airline or carrier that was profitable from year one. In 1996 from US$2.1 million to 51.1 million in 2003 and stock is up 5X from it’s IPO in 1999. As one blogger Robert Patterson puts it, ” An airline that has a heart as well as low fares “. There are many instances that support this fact, hostesses rocking babies and some racing to give left behind cell phones. Its the customer experience that mainline companies find difficulty replicating. If you ask the CEO he will say it is “our people” and “WestJest attitude”. What is WestJet Attitude ? A sense of humour that permeates everything we do. Happy employees and customers will ultimately create positive financial results. Enthusiatic workers who will go the extra mile to make guests happy. You empower employees, treat them as equals, latitude to think and act for themselves. If you are not having fun, you will be propbably fired. Real stories that are a result of this WestJest attitude follow.

A woman flying on WestJet arrived at her destination and found that her baggage had not arrived. In tears, she explained to WestJet ground staff that she was getting married that afternoon and her wedding dress was in the luggage that had not arrived. Without missing a moment they put her in a taxi, sped her to downtown and bought her $2280 wedding dress and footed the bill.

Another is an experience from Karen Phelan.

I flew to Edmonton with WestJet for the first time during the break. I had a great week. I traveled through the mountains, went shopping, saw wildlife and all that fun stuff. On the way home, I had a stopover in Toronto for a few hours. As I was getting ready to board my next flight to Moncton, I became very ill and unable to breathe. I was also traveling by myself. The staff at WestJet were absolutely wonderful in comforting me, accommodating me etc. As I was in the airports infirmary, the nurse told me that I could not go home as I did not have medical clearance. I know it seems weird – but I now understand that if I was up in the air and something happened to my breathing, what could they do! So it was best that I didn¡¯t fly that night.

WestJet provided me a room with a king’s sized bed, transportation too and from the airport, food vouchers valuing $16 and a free flight home to Moncton the following night providing I was well enough to fly. All this happened within an hour of becoming ill. No questions asked and no hassles. I even had WestJet staff handing me their own personal cell phones to make calls home because my cell had died earlier. When I boarded the shuttle bus to go to the hotel for the night, a WestJet representative gave me a big hug and wished me luck. She had stayed with me the whole time. On the flight home, I had a front row seat with the entire row to myself and my luggage was already in Moncton waiting for me. How did I know this? A WestJet representative called me at the hotel to tell me.

I will travel with them again and again – no questions asked. They were amazing – and they were complete strangers. I was quite happy to get home. WestJet made it much easier for me while I was away by myself. My friends and family at home were just as understanding and bent over backwards to help me during this crappy time.

I just thought that this tied in nicely with our last theme of how companies are getting too big and not caring enough about their customers. I think WestJet has it together and I want people to know it.

Karen M. Phelan

WestJet took nearly $24 million of shareholder capital and turned it into a company worth over $1.25 billion. Scores of executives ask what is the secret of its success. Says Don Bell ” We just tell them that hiring the right people, having fun, and treating the customer as you’d want to be treated is what we’re about. But very few companies seem to get it. “

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These are notes from a visit to NFM by students from Tuck school of management at Dartmouth. Some students described this visit to Nebraska where they also met Warren Buffett, the legendary investor, the highlight of their trip.

Tour of Nebraska Furniture Mart:

Upon entering the enormous furniture superstore, Bob Batt, along with employees Jeff and Kristen, greeted us with a sign welcoming the “#1 Business School in America” fresh from the Wall Street Journal article earlier in the week. During the tour we picked up several pointers from Mr. Batt:

On being open on weekends/holidays: “gotta be there when the customers are there”

Sam Walton: “If you don’t care about your customers someone else will”

Furniture retailing in Omaha is now a global business, events in China and India will affect the bottom line.

Continuous cleaning is very important, nobody buys from a dirty store.

Target customers are women, they make the purchasing decisions.

“How credible are you when you’re selling?”

Learned crowd control from Disneyland, keep people in line entertained.

There is no consignment, all inventory is owned: “cash is king” – furniture manufacturers will give discounts to customers paying cash

In 1975 NFM lost all stores in a tornado, they made a Red Cross contribution the next day.

NFM does not have employment contracts, has never fired an employee in 61 years.

When asked what market segment NFM targets, Mr. Batt replied “we want it all”.

Television sales are highly correlated to Nebraska’s football schedule.

‘Adjacencies’ are very important; having complementary items displayed near each other. For example, lamps and rugs near where chairs and couches sold.

After about an hour many students were planning kitchens and living rooms for their future houses. The story of NFM’s founding was referenced multiple times, and was a recurring theme during our meeting with Mr. Buffett as well. Rose Blumkin, aka ‘Ms. B’, started NFM in 1937 with $500 of friends and family money in her basement. She couldn’t read or write and had never attended school at any level but built the largest furniture retailer in the region. NFM was sold to Mr. Buffett in 1983. After a difference of opinion with the current management team, Mrs. B started another furniture store at age 97. She sold this new furniture store to Berkshire a few years later, at which time Mr. Buffett wisely required her to sign a 10-year non-compete agreement. Her greatest asset was her passion, a pre-requisite for business success according to Mr. Buffett.

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