NEW DELHI: There’s a special spot for love stories where destiny played cupid. Case in point: Akshay and Devina Anand. Both studied in the same school – he was in Class XII and she was in Class IX. “We vaguely knew each other then,” says Devina. She went on to pursue a degree in fashion management from the London College of Fashion, and he became a banker with the American Express. In time, Akshay quit his job to pursue his true passion, food, and ventured into the F&B industry, and Devina’s love to eat good food saw them cross paths again after 16 years in 2014.
“She was part of DLF Emporio’s marketing team, and we happened to meet at one of my restaurants, 1 Boulevard at Saket,” recalls Akshay, 37. They instantly hit off. “It happened quite naturally, and we started dating each other. My folks were also on board,” adds Devina, 34. The couple got married in February 2016. “Even before our wedding, she would enjoy my food tastings, but grew involved with the business only when I started bringing international brands to India.
Now, I take care of everything… from the conception to the realisation of a project, and day-to-day operations, while she looks after the PR and marketing. She even conceptualised the menu for our new restaurant, Ophelia,” says Akshay. It’s one thing to run a restaurant with a business partner, but a totally different experience to run it with your significant other. Devina admits she is still learning the tricks of the trade from Akshay, slowly and steadily, and gradually wants to delve more into the operational aspect of the business and people management.
“Since I am into fashion, I love contributing in terms of the design and presentation of the outlet.” Meanwhile, Akshay has great expectations from their partnership. “Since I do a new product every six months and I want to scale my other brands, I want her to fill in my shoes and take care of the running outlets so that the quality is maintained, and the old outlets are not ignored because of the new ones.” And there’s more to it. “I always call her my lucky charm as I really believe she is lucky for me,” he adds. After all, when they met, he owned 1 Boulevard and 1 Cafe Bar at Saket and 1 Cafe Lounge in CP. Now, he has Toy Room at Aloft Hotel Aerocity, Ophelia at Ashoka Hotel, and the plan to open Cosy Box – the luxury dining brand from Cannes – at JW Marriott Aerocity is underway.
Akshay loves live music, running, and collecting rare malts, and Devina loves reading, listening to music and has been cooking lately. He takes more time to get ready, while she is the punctual one. He is mad about Arabic, Chinese and Indian, and she loves Italian and Continental. He feels she is super talkative, she complains that he talks with his eyes fixed to the mobile screen. In defense, he says, “Even on the days I am exhausted, I have to force myself to have a conversation as this is her constant need.” And understandably so, she hopes he turns half as loquacious as she is some day.
Even their schedules are different. “Unlike Akshay, my routine is quite relaxed. Before lockdown, I visited the restaurants a couple of times a week, and spend a few days with the family.” But, Akshay leaves the house as soon as he can after waking up every day. “Usually, I am at my restaurants, checking SOPs. I come home in between, workout in the evening and again leave at night for the outlets,” he adds. However, with regard to business strategy the two are on the same page. “We discuss all workrelated stuff with each other, and do the R&D of food, conceptualisation, branding and positioning of the outlet and marketing strategies together,” he adds. So, in Akshay and Devina’s case, couples that work together, stay together.
He is so lazy on Sundays. He literally doesn’t move an inch from where he is.
Every time she has a dream, she sees us travelling to a new destination.