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Some Food for Thought

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Entrepreneur, Riyaaz Amlani:

Like most restaurateurs, Riyaaz Amlani is flamboyant. He will charm you with his wicked sense of humour even if you just have 15 minutes with him on the phone. With 34 outlets across 12 cities in 13 years, his restaurant business is all about 'delivering an experience at the front end and keeping fixed costs at the back,' he says. 

Here are seven things you should know about the smooth-talking Amlani.

Young starter 
'I started working when I was 13 or 14. I used to go to work to Mochi after school. This was in Bombay… I was born and brought up in that city. I did all of that to pay my bills and that's how I learned how the world works. Then things just sort of fell in place. That’s when the entrepreneurial bug really bit me.'

His inspiration: Kahwah khana
We wanted to do a coffee shop but didn’t want a cut-copy-paste of Starbucks. So, after a lot of research, we decided on creating a contemporary version of a Kahwah khana. We thought that it will be interesting to repackage the concept and the vibe for the country.

Rolling work with play
I think Social was one of the first co-working spaces in the country. We saw how cafes were being run over the last 15 years and how people’s relationship with cafes has evolved with time. We also noticed that people came to cafes not just for coffee or to read, but they were also coming to work. People were always looking for places where they could come in with their laptops and work. So the inspiration was that—to give them a hub so that they don’t feel they are missing out on the real world. To be in a social environment and interact with new people. Then, at your regular cafe, there was always this awkward stage where folks thoughts they would have to order one more cup of coffee or one more muffin because they needed to hang around. We thought we'd remove all that and give them what they were looking for…a co-working space.

Minimal intervention
For some time, I had been feeling that design had become very boring. People were doing the same thing over and over again. So we brainstormed as to how we could respect the property the way we found it… I believe that the patina of the property says a lot; it has stories to tell. So we used the elements of the property, retained its own character and decided on minimal intervention and maximum upcycling by way of using the cool, funky things lying around in shops… all second hand stuff. The idea was to use as little material as possible.

Three idols
Manish Malhotra for his sheer genius. Manu Chandra for the very talented concept creator that he is. A.D. Singh for being the absolute king of marketing.  

All for advice
I think whatever we have achieved or learnt is a result of paying close attention to what our customers want and what they have to say. It’s a constant dialogue between us and the customers.

A man of many indulgences 
I can have anything from chhole bhature to sushi to a parfait! 


Text Hansika Lohani Mehtani

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