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HoReCa segment is undergoing massive changes in the past couple of years. Surely, a lot of it has to do with the pandemic and when we say pandemic it is not necessarily the negative ripples but the positive outlook that it has created now. For instance, with tourism resuming in greater force the HoReCa segment in India has been able to realise its full potential. We speak with a few owners of hotels, cafes and restaurants in Mumbai which is the business capital of the country to understand the situation of today. They tell us what’s their vision is about the trends and future of the HoReCa industry.
Deigo Miranda owns a beautiful cafe called Bambai Nazariya. It is located in the beachy Versova, home to many a hip bar, quirky restaurants and production houses. Co-owned by GleniceD’Sa the both decided to locate Bambai Nazariya, a chai house that promises to provide a safe haven for the LGBTQ + community. “Through the cafe, we wanted to create a space where everyone would feel comfortable to express themselves in the ways they wish, a space of their very own, without judgement, only acceptance and personal growth,” shares Miranda.
The white-pebbled al fresco section leads to a charming indoor area. The place oozes retro vibe – a boxy TV set, and a gramophone placed on a sewing machine; these props are remodelled to serve as tables, apart from a mini library and colourful bohemian cushion covers. The cafe spells quirk with its word play. A frame reads, “Nazariya Badlo, NazaraBadlega,” while a mirror displays the words: “Dekhomagarpyar se”. Specialties of the house include pink chai, cheese croissant and chicken pepperoni. Miranda says, “These days a cafe runs on the idea of what unique one has to offer to its customers. Every one has a beautiful interior and good food. But when you innovate the nuances it works well. I wanted to provide an opportunity to them to explore their interests and hone their skills within the hospitality industry. The café allows them to explore the whole spectrum of jobs available in the industry, from preparing the food, to servicing customers, to managing the café. Through the cafe, we wanted to create a space where everyone would feel comfortable to express themselves in the ways they wish, a space of their very own, without judgement, only acceptance and personal growth,” shares Miranda. It is indeed unique to see how crafted is Bambai Nazariya and how well the elements are blended in.
When we talk of food today there’s a lot that we can predict perhaps. One such trend is dim sum. Somnath Bhunia, Restaurant Manager at Yauatcha Mumbai, shares, “Dim sums have been popular in Chinese culture since ancient times as they are traditionally a range of small bites made with locally available ingredients and were originally enjoyed with tea as a part of brunch. Dim sums have a variety of flavours, textures, cooking styles and ingredients. We have 36 varieties of steamed dim sum, 5 different types of cheung fun and 11 variations of baked and fried dim sum. A dim sum is not limited to a flour based skin and a filling like a momo is, a dim sum has more variety of ingredients used to contribute to the dish. Momo is specifically made using wheat flour. Dim sum have a range of flours.”
Varieties like steamed Sui mai, which are not sealed on the top were among the popular ones along with many other dim sums which came in early 2000 in India. Later we saw the emergence of other varieties gaining popularity like Japanese Gyoza also known as pot stickers, Filipino Siopao, etc. Somnath also stress on the fact that there are several factors that contribute to a popularity of a particular food item. Now, dim sum is a fancy term and the young generation is exposed to internet and watching the world cinema. Imagine we are sitting in India but watching and adopting the western culture including food and customs is symbolic of the huge impact that internet has created. Dim sum is popular among a particular section of society as it is cool and fancy. Using chopsticks is something the young people find cool. It is indeed a unique phase we are currently in.
Adding another layer into this discourse is Bhaskar KR, the owner of the Big Puranpoli Empire, Puranpoli Ghar in Maharashtra. Puran polis is a traditional dish that he has taken up to a different level. Bhaskar KR has numerous outlets of puranpoliGhar in Maharashtra. He tells us, “I always wanted to take a traditional dish like puranpoli to the global level. I suppose we are living in an era where we need to revisit our roots. Yes, we might be imbibing the west culture but we are also noticing how rooted we have always been. We love our simple daalchawal recipe right? We might go out to eat something and try a different dish be it Chinese or Asian, but, we come back to our daalchawal or chapatisabzi. Similarly, at the moment in the HoReCa segment we are valuing our own cultural and traditional dish than the alien ones. What we can do is innovate the traditional recipes giving it a modern hint by adding unique flavours or by presentation.”Businessman like Bhaskar KR are rare and they understand the value of traditional food.
Taking pride in serving the best coffee and special almond cake is Khala Ghoda cafe in south Bombay. Ranjit Singh, the Head of the cafe explain, “The current trends in HoReCa industry in India depends largely on what consumer want. The industry is driven on simply the demand and supply chain. However, people these days look for organic stuff rather than artificial flavours. We make everything pure in our cafe. No artificial flavours are added. The almond cake is glutton free and a lot of people like it. We do not use wheat in it and it is purely almond based. People from London and Newyork who visit us whenever they are in Bombay definitely come by and take our special almond cake there.”
Ranjit believe that the cafes and restaurants in Mumbai are unique as each one of them has its own speciality and offerings. It is difficult to conclude what is the future but he says it is surely about coming back to the roots, being more sustainable and healthy.
Akash Arya, owner of Earth soul cafe in Navi Mumbai says, “My cafe is a unique cafe in different ways. Greek ambience with white walls and the beautiful seating is literal charm of the place. If we talk about the food then smoked tofu sandwich and hummus is the attraction. I suppose that the trends keep changing with time and there is no fixed way to predict what lies ahead. Food and business sector is unpredictable. We try to innovate and create something different which can really be our USP. For example, we conduct open mics which means a gathering of people from different walks of life where they are free to share their thoughts in the form of poetry, shayaris or stand up comedy. We just have the mantra of serving chemical free and absolutely healthy food to our customers. You see today people not just want good food but a good ambience and an experience that they cherish. What will distinguish then a good place from the rest? It is every cafe or restaurants USP (Unique selling point). Food has to be tasty, healthy and the process of procurement should also be sustainable. Besides all this, Akash stress that We are the only healthy/ health based cafe in Navi Mumbai. We do open mics, unplugged sessions, karaoke too. In essence, Earth soul cafe thrives and aims to provide healthiest food. Anyone coming in to dine here will be assured that they are being served with the best healthy food.”
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