25 is landmark number for SOCIAL: Riyaaz Amlani

December 02 2019

"Over the past two decades, consumers' tastes and preferences have evolved with social media playing an important role", says hotelier Riyaaz Amlani, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Impresario Entertainment and Hospitality Pvt Ltd.

He says the Indian F&B industry is a young and exciting one, where contemporary concepts and creativity are constantly merging. Amlani on Saturday launched his 25th outpost, this one in Noida, which gets a taste of the first popular urban cafe - SOCIAL.

SOCIAL is slated to grow as a movement with 80 outposts across 15 cities in the next three years, including tier 1 and tier 2 cities.

In a conversation with IANSlife, Amlani speaks more about the Indian food industry, its future and his expansion plans.

Excerpts:

How have you seen the Indian food industry growth over the years?

Amlani: Our first project was Mocha - Coffees & Conversations almost 20 years ago, and at that point, consumers had very few options. Over the last two decades, the consumer's tastes and preferences have evolved. social media has had a big impact and has allowed local and global boundaries to merge into homegrown global food experiences. Today, international brands and homegrown concepts are easily available to Indians.



The past decade has seen constant evolution within the industry and outside. People are eyeing the F&B industry with a new lens, and seeing the massive potential it has to offer. Perceptions around food are changing, and going out for a meal or ordering in is a whole experience in itself. Restaurants are adapting to interesting ways to make dining out for customers a novel experience through innovations in concepts and menus.



The sector has evolved to a point where we have dedicated media outlets for food and travel, and aggregator brands for homestays and boutique hotels are offering local food experiences to attract a new client base. Cloud Kitchens are gaining momentum and so are home delivery formats, as we see many double-income homes doing away with functional kitchens, and monthly food subscription packages are also becoming the norm rather than the exception.



You are opening the 25th outpost of SOCIAL in Noida this month. Do you see it as a landmark number?

Amlani: SOCIAL is among the most exciting F&B brands in the country today, and Impresario Handmade Restaurants is expanding the brand at a rapid pace. SOCIAL has redefined the caf� experience for millennials, and it is a concept space where people like to work and play. It continues to innovate with new experiences while offering exciting food and drinks at great price points.



We are truly excited about our 25th outpost in Noida. Dubbed #CinemaSocial, the outlet is an enduring ode to the cinematic icons of �classic' Bollywood, and the iconic movie halls of the time. The design pays homage to old school single-screen theatres and is the embodiment of movie culture at its finest: the whistles, the tears, the grandeur of it all. It's going to be a seriously fun place.



Twenty five is definitely a landmark number for us, but the fun doesn't stop there. The SOCIAL movement is going to witness 80 outposts across 15 cities in the next three years. Now that's an exciting number for us!



A lot of youngsters are heading to this sector. What do you think has driven it?

Amlani: We are seeing an upsurge in young people who want to enter this sector. It is a young and exciting industry, where contemporary concepts and creativity are constantly merging. Caf� and restaurant cultures are changing and people are spoilt for choice. There is an increase in demand for new venues, and going to a restaurant is not limited to just eating good food. People expect a wholesome experience and view going to a restaurant or caf� as a form of entertainment. The changing scenario has strengthened the F&B industry, leading to an increase in job opportunities and a boost in tourism as well.



Dining out has also seen a rise in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. Do you agree? How are you tapping/ planning to tap the market there?

Amlani: There's still a lot of growth left for us in markets like Mumbai, Delhi NCR, and Bangalore, and we will continue to expand in metros via our hyperlocal approach to new outposts. However, Tier 2 cities are also gaining traction, so you are going to spot a SOCIAL in several new cities over the next three years. These cities have a large young population who want to experience new things, different cuisines, and have sufficient disposable income to do the same. They are constantly looking for places where they can interact and mingle with people from different fields, have different experiences, creating further demand in this space. The F&B industry has seen huge potential in these cities as there is a good return on investment, leading to big chains opening up in smaller cities. At SOCIAL, we serve various kinds of communities, and every community needs a SOCIAL.



It is said that the life term of any restaurant is not more than five years. Do you believe that?

Amlani: Impresario is known for building handcrafted restaurants. In the last two decades, we've opened 56 restaurants across 16 cities. In a span of five short years, SOCIAL has reached the 25-outlet mark, while our decade-old Smoke House Deli chain has recently undergone an evolution and is currently present in Mumbai, Delhi, and Bangalore, with the next one scheduled to come up in Hyderabad.



This is possible because when we launch any of our brands in a city, we make it extremely relevant to the hyper-local community; more so with SOCIAL, which is a community space to hang out outside of the home or office. While most restaurants do one table-turnaround for lunch and two table-turnarounds for dinner, we do seven table turnarounds since we start with breakfast and go right up to the legal closing time.

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