Our Bureau

Pune, June 22

AFTER Sachin Tendulkar and Saurav Ganguly, it's now Zaheer Khan's turn to venture into the lucrative restaurant business with ZK's, a multi-cuisine restaurant and lounge in Pune. It will be launched on June 27 with a party that is expected to be nothing less than `rocking'.

"Once this press conference is over, I plan to invite my friends from the team, over phone, for a party," Zaheer told here on Wednesday.

The would-be restaurateur listed `maa-ke-haath ka mutton biryani' as his favourite food, but said he is also evolving into a food-lover, thanks to the team's tours that allows him to experiment with international cuisine. "Indian, Continental and Thai food are special favourites," he said, adding that nothing could beat the taste of home food.

The foray into the restaurant business comes in the wake of the injuries that he has suffered in the recent past.

"A pace bowler is susceptible to injuries and his career, very often, does not extend beyond 35. There has to be something to fall back on after a cricketing career and, for me, food seemed the obvious choice since it is something I am interested in," said the 20-something pace bowler.

Zaheer, who wanted to be an engineer, gave up mid-way after he discovered that he wanted to be a cricketer.

"A lot of people have contributed to my development. My family has been with me right through allowing me to quit engineering, and live in Mumbai alone to pick up the game and standing by all my decisions unconditionally," he said.

The restaurant has been set up at an estimated Rs 3.5 crore and will have in addition to Indian, western and oriental cuisine, a selection of fusion food.

ZK's, spread over 8,000 sq ft, would also have a full-fledged banqueting facility and a lounge bar.

"I have picked up decor elements from places that I have visited and liked in India and abroad."

The restaurant will be managed by his uncle and brother, while the player would visit on weekends to promote it.

Does he plan to expand the restaurant to other cities like his team members?

"I have no idea. The restaurant was not something I planned; it just happened and I will now wait to see how it develops, before I take any decisions on expanding," Zaheer said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated June 23, 2005)
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