India’s uniquely crafted and neighbourhood oriented hangout space SOCIAL chose to launch its 50th outlet in the hi-tech of Hyderabad by the name Mindspace SOCIAL. Mayank Bhatt, CEO, Impresario, explains the journey of SOCIAL, how it captures the essence of socio-cultural fabric of the community through its pincode strategy to grow its business across India in conversation with Tejaswini Paranjape.
Recently launched outlet in Hyderabad is 50th SOCIAL outlet all over India, how special is it in terms of operations and design?
Impresario Entertainment & Hospitality’s commitment to innovation and excellence spans nearly 22 years, with these two pillars driving our pursuit of creating exceptional dining experiences. The house of Impresario has given India many memorable brands.
SOCIAL, our trailblazer F&B space with 51 outlets today, is the strongest story. SOCIAL sits at a confluence of a café & a bar, it is also a co-working cum networking space; which has redefined dining, socialising, and entertainment. Every SOCIAL outlet embodies the hyperlocal essence of the area it resides in. Its meticulously curated pincode strategy imbibes the nuances of the neighbourhood whilst retaining a national appeal.
Mindspace SOCIAL, which was the 50th outlet in India, beautifully reflects this ethos and represents the socio-cultural fabric of its community. With a sprawling rock garden, a serene daytime lounge cum café area (also designed to be a co-working space), and an upper level for Hyderabad’s nightlife and live events, this SOCIAL celebrates the City of Pearls’ true essence.
The F&B menu at Mindspace SOCIAL also brings to life the rich flavours of Hyderabad. Curated for the local palette, guests can relish the Hyderabadass Breakfast Tray, Apollo Fish, Gongora Chicken Tikka, and the iconic Mutton Biryani (Hyderabad-style). The cocktail menu comes with SOCIAL classics such
as the Thai Malish, Hot Toddy and the ever-popular LLIITs, among others! We believe that India’s culinary diversity is a treasure, and it will continue to be our inspiration moving forward for Impresario’s brands.
Tell us more about your SOCIAL Journey through this milestone achievement in terms of business? What is SOCIAL-centric growth target for the year 2024?
Impresario boasts of an expansive network of over 60 outlets across 20 cities in India, showcasing a diverse range of brands including SOCIAL, antiSOCIAL, Smoke House Deli, Slink & Bardot, Bandra Born, Prithvi Café, and cloud kitchens such as BOSS Burger, Lucknowee, and Aflatoon by SOCIAL. SOCIAL’s journey began in 2014 with Churchstreet in Bengaluru, followed by Hauz Khas in New Delhi, and Colaba in Mumbai, and has since expanded to encompass 10 major cities across India. Each
SOCIAL encapsulates the local essence of the neighbourhood it’s present in. What works for SOCIAL is that it’s a space which offers something to every individual, from daytime through evening, occupying a unique space in its category. Over the last decade, SOCIAL has evolved from a restaurant
or café to THE hangout spot, seamlessly integrating itself into pop culture, and becoming a brand
that young India loves to come back to.
At its core, SOCIAL is an inclusive space that fosters a sense of creativity, collaboration, and community. From artists, entrepreneurs to working professionals, our outlets have been a haven for people to come around and spend time with one another. The space is designed to help creative professionals thrive, bringing the perfect balance of work & play. This experience resonates with India’s burgeoning demographic dividend.
As we continue to scale up, we aim to open 15-20 SOCIAL outlets annually. We have also further intensified our focus on Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. We aim to go wider across the country by entering new markets with a strong young professional demographic. Simultaneously, go deeper by growing our presence in existing regions.
We learn that all SOCIAL outlets are innovative, designed with funky themes and thus give room for small businesses, artists, and entrepreneurs. Tell us more about Hyderabad chapter in this context. Any specific reason to choose Hyderabad for launching the 50th outlet?
Mindspace City SOCIAL marks a significant milestone as the 50th SOCIAL outlet in India and it’s also our first one in Hyderabad. True to its name and the vibrant neighbourhood it calls home, Mindspace SOCIAL embraces the intersection of professional and social life in the hi-tech City of Pearls. With
three unique zones – an alfresco, a café, and a high-energy dance space, this SOCIAL caters to a broad audience. The venue boasts a sprawling rock garden amidst lush greenery, a tribute to Hyderabad’s culture; to an indoor café cum co-working space, and a top floor set with Hyderabad’s live events experiences. It embodies the future of work, play, dance, and chill in Hyderabad. With a 500-seater capacity, it is now pioneering a new era of socialising in the city. The choice of Hyderabad for our 50th outlet aligns with our strategy of targeting markets with a large, youthful working population. We will continue to establish a presence in major Indian cities and state capitals, making Hyderabad a pivotal location for our expansion in the South.
What are the challenges you faced in creating sustainable brands like SOCIAL? What made you sail through tough times in the lockdown?
The casual dining segment has been among the fastest growing in the F&B and restaurants category. As consumers continue to evolve and undergo a transformative shift in preferences, combatting stiff competition by understanding consumer behaviour and engaging with them thoughtfully has been our motive. Firstly, to confront this competition, we doubled down our presence in particularly metros, whilst broadening our footprint in emerging tier 2 markets. We recognised the growing demand for experiential dining, nightlife, and new culinary experiences in emerging markets such as Dehradun, Chandigarh and Indore driven primarily by an emerging segment of young working professionals. Leveraging this, we strategically managed to bolster our presence far and wide to become a popular brand.
Secondly, SOCIAL’s growth comes with the neighbourhood it is present in. Adopting a hyperlocal agenda and pincode-driven growth strategy, we ensured how SOCIAL outlets can remain long term and relevant in these neighbourhoods. Additionally, by adding locations away from city hubs like Sector 85, Gurugram or Navi Mumbai, we addressed the need for dine-out for key emerging residential and commercial hubs.
While the industry has witnessed a resurgence since the pandemic, the F&B sector posed unprecedented challenges when COVID-19 affected India, prompting us to reevaluate and innovate. With an aim to consistently communicate and engage our guests, we embraced a 360-degree approach, and invested in technology for contactless dining and delivery experiences. For example, we launched initiatives like DIY kits and subscription models, reflecting our adaptability to evolve and engage. We also scaled up our delivery brands BOSS Burger, and Lucknowee across newer markets in India during this period alongside launching Aflatoon by SOCIAL to provide our audiences with a broader variety of culinary experiences.
Amidst all the uncertainty, we found opportunities to make meaningful impact. We are committed to furthering Impresario group’s expansion across India, ensuring sustainable growth.
What is your overall expansion plan across India, tier 2 cities in particular?
As Impresario, we have grown and evolved with India’s socio-cultural landscape over the last twenty years. Our work resonates with the changing aspirations of India’s industrious middle class and the emergence of bustling markets. Today, cities beyond Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru exhibit a growing preference for urban cosmopolitan lifestyle driven by an increase in disposable incomes and globalisation. This trend underscores the immense potential for growth in the food services sector, a
space where SOCIAL thrives. 2023 saw us open outlets in newer markets like Kolkata and Hyderabad because we recognized the immense potential they possess for hospitality and nightlife. SOCIAL, antiSOCIAL and Smoke House Deli’s growth strategy is backed by these evolving preferences
and we will expand into opportunities where we can offer differentiated yet localised experiences.Our aim is to go wider and deeper into India with a focus on creating memorable experiences and spaces that resonate with all Indians.
Over the years, our brands have been part of the socio-cultural fabric of India, and we are excited about the space we occupy in the lives of our people. India’s burgeoning middle class and aspirations of the emerging cities give us the opportunity to tap into newer markets. As this grows, more Indians are looking for better and don’t mind paying for premium experiences. In addition to the existing cities – Mumbai, Bangalore, New Delhi, Pune, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Gurgaon, Chandigarh, Indore, Dehradun, Faridabad, we are bullish on expansion and are looking to expand to cities such as Lucknow, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Kochi, Ludhiana and Raipur, among others.