AGAINST all odds
How a boy who has never finished school went on to manage one of Kathmanduís most successful establishments
Dressed in a jeans and a brightly-coloured fitted shirt that gives a sneak peek of a tattoo on his right arm, Max Khatri looks completely at home at The Factory, where he is the Managing Director.
Watching him pore over the bills, answer his phone while still managing to chat with his skateboarding friends and order round of drinks, one gets a strong sense that Max was born to do this.
Looking at his success now, it's comes as quite a surprise that he didn't even complete high school. At twenty-six, his accomplishments are the outcome of a series of struggles that began from an early age.
For Max, who always wanted to be known as the owner of a hip entertainment venue, The Factory is a dream come true. "I always enjoyed seeing trendy places when I was young, and I remember I would always think the owners looked cool," he tells us. Located in Thamel's newly constructed Mandala Street, The Factory is a fine addition to the growing cafe and bar culture of Kathmandu. Living up to its name, the interiors resemble a rather grey warehouse, while waiters clad in jumpsuits serve delectable food and drinks. It certainly has an edgier feel than many other spots in Kathmandu.
A tough upbringing brought Max many responsibilities from a young age. With an ailing father, he was compelled to look after his mother, two sisters and when he could, his dad's bookshop. At thirteen, he was working at his friend's father's shop while his friends went to school. Five years later, he started an import and export trading business with China. "It was nasty. I turned bad stuff into good stuff", says Max; eventually the business crashed when he was twenty-two. While chilling out with his friends Manish and Nirmal, they conceptualised The Factory. "Nirmal knew music, Manish had the money, and I liked playing with money!" he says of The Factory's beginnings.
His good looks have made him the favourite of variety pages in the newspapers, and the people that frequent the venue have made it even more popular. But Max is resentful of the view that The Factory is a club, even as we add that "it's the most happening club in town."
The Factory is a space not only for enjoying decent fare, but also for enjoying great music and company on any day of the week. "I'm keen to push the idea of eating out", says Max, who is persistent in promoting the eating out culture in Kathmandu, and to offer diners a little extra.
"I have Tuesdays off", says Max. "And what do I want to do on a Tuesday? I want to go out. I want to go out, have dinner with my friends, have a few drinks and maybe shake my booty a little. We offer all that here at The Factory."
His dream is to make Thamel like Bangkok, a city that generates a large portion of its revenue from its nightlife. But Max points out that he wants it to be classy and tasteful but also fun and exciting at the same time. Might he be interested in expanding his business through another venture? "Well, maybe," he reveals. We hope it's true. If the success of his first venue is anything to go by, Kathmandu party-goers would be delighted to have Max offer one more option.