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‘Launching a restaurant is very similar to launching a movie’

Tuesday, December 17, 2019, 15:36 Hrs  [IST]

This creative genius behind the Swanky Unplugged Courtyard Connaught Place, multifaceted Unplugged Courtyard Gurgaon and La Roca is unquestionably one of India's important restaurateurs. La Roca is the expression of its founder Dinesh Arora's vision of a restaurant that offers multi-sensorial dining out experience to New Age Indians – millennials who are global citizens anchored in the Indian ethos. It is also designed to be the go-to destination of world travellers' transiting through Delhi or working for one of the many heavyweight multinational brands that have moved to the Worldmark towers.

Arora is a restaurateur who has not only established a collection of restaurants that set a new model within the hospitality profession; he also likes to shake things up a bit now and then by reinventing his restaurants and cuisine concepts. Like many others before him, he entered the restaurant business owing to his love of food. Interestingly, Arora loves Bollywood as much as his food, hence the name Eastman Colour restaurants and hence also Unplugged Courtyard Connaught Place being launched by King Khan himself. In an interaction with Hospitality Biz, Arora spoke on his entrepreneurial journey and future projects.

Q In your entrepreneurial journey as a restaurateur, especially since 2014, you had launched a new brand every year – Starting with Lights Camera Acton in 2014 to La Roca in 2019. In that context, what your loyal customers in Delhi NCR can expect in the New Year, 2020?
After its huge success in Connaught Place and Gurgaon, Unplugged Courtyard is set to launch in Noida, Agra, Jaipur, Kanpur, Lucknow and Kolkata. Also going global with a brand in Europe. We are also coming up with a fast-casual brand with a stellar bar and never-seen-before entertainment. This will be the mecca for the millennials of Delhi NCR. Can only unveil as much for now!

Q It seems you have a great fascination for the tinsel world as you have two of your brands themed around Bollywood – Lights Camera Action and Bombay Bar. Could you give a sense of your liking for the cinema world and how it becomes a good backdrop for dining spaces?
Launching a movie is very similar to launching a restaurant. If in 2 months you don't prove your worth, you are done! Also, I am a big movie buff! All these factors put together

Q It also seems locations determine the introduction of new themes and brands in your case. Otherwise, how would you explain your rationale of introducing altogether new theme and brand – La Roca – in Aerocity? What made you think none of your existing brands in your portfolio can fit in there?
Aerocity is an upcoming F&B hub right next to Airport! We had to come up with a brand that catered to premium South Delhi clients, corporates and travellers that were travelling in and out of the country. Hence, La Roca came into existence. The global comfort food menu, European architecture, new-age cocktails and world-class entertainment ensure that the brand is well in sync with the audience sensibilities.

Q How Aerocity is evolving as an F&B destination of Delhi NCR and what kind of further opportunities you see there?
Aerocity has managed to entail all the major upcoming F&B brands that have a mass appeal. The vicinity now regularly flocked millennials is fast becoming the go-to spot for the people of Delhi and Gurgaon, considering its accessibility to both. A healthy mix of multi-cuisine restaurants, cafés & nightclubs, Aerocity is poised to be the party capital of Delhi NCR.

Q In your portfolio, Unplugged Courtyard has received a very high level of appreciation from food connoisseurs. What according to you worked in favour of the brand?
R&D has always been the key for us. An extensive Indian Fusion menu has done wonders for us. From complex dishes like Atta Chicken to the Palak Patta Chaats, Unplugged Courtyard successfully managed to capture the imagination of not only the masses but the food connoisseurs as well!

Q What are your plans to grow your footprint in terms of different brands in your portfolio? Which are the brands you feel have the potential to drive your future growth?
Unplugged Courtyard is already well on course to expand to 8 cities. We are also working out something around Indian Food and Family Dining as well as a fast-casual restaurant for the millennials.

Q What are the different business models that you are considering for future expansion?
QSR, Catering and Delivery!

Q How do you see the F&B market evolving to novel concepts beyond the core metro cities in India?
F&B ventures are performing better beyond metro cities as the competition in metros is stiff, wherein tier-2 & tier-3 are way more receptive to novel concepts! We are moving beyond the metros and hitting the tier-2 & tier-3 cities.

Q What are your views on the #Logout campaign and movement that the restaurant industry is running against food aggregators? How can restaurants reduce the stranglehold of aggregators to drive customers into the units?
I think the #Logout campaign was a necessary step to curb the ever-growing discount offerings. People are now driven by discount, not the product and that is where the core problem lies. Refraining from deep discount offerings on aggregator platform and standardizing discounts is the most effective way of reducing the stranglehold of aggregators. A level playing field needs to be set yet again!

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