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IN CONVERSATION WITH RESTAURATEUR AMAN BHANDARI

— EXPLOSIVE FASHION

He's young, creative and hot property at parties he hosts or attends. He's also a savvy restaurateur with a clear insight of the food and beverage industry worldwide — meet Aman Bhandari. The dapper young man believes in himself and works with tunnel-vision to achieve his goal… one after the other. Commendable—seeing that he has diversified from the fitness and wellness industry. In conversation.

 

''Diversion and Expansion is the key to growth. Though I still retain my interest in the wellness industry with Elevate Fitclub — a 3.500 sq. ft. boutique health club I recently launched in Niti Bagh, South Delhi — and Sykz Fitness running successfully in many parts of Mumbai'' he explains. ''One of the few reasons behind my 'priority' and 'energy' shift to the culinary and nightlife industries is the diversity the field offers; that exposes you to a lot of new challenges!! And I love challenges!! It helps you unfold the creative side of yourself. I feel I can exploit my creativity a lot more in the hospitality industry. Besides, the industry also helps me to treat people to excessive indulgence, gratify and pamper them. And who doesn't loves pampering?!''

 

Today, Aman is one of India's most successful young restaurateurs with Gatsby By BW, Club BW and 52 Janpath focusing on concept executed with attention to detail and quality. What were the initial challenges you faced, I ask? ''Thank you for considering me among India's most successful in the field. I truly appreciate that though I believe I've just joined the race and there is a long way to go. Yet, I take pride in the journey because I’ve been straddling challenges to get where I am today. Hmmm, the initial challenges I faced — which of course most of us face — would be acquiring various licenses, permissions and managing erratic laws for the outlet due to the licensing system in our country. It is a vaguely stretched process which makes it difficult for restaurants to go full throttle. Secondly, I love creating what I call 'mood elevation space' and the crux of the matter is that at times it gets difficult to make guests adapt to what you've created. For example, we still have major expectations for Bollywood music and butter chicken in a European-styled conceptual bar!!!! The Delhi market doesn't allow you to experiment. But since it's my USP to create mood restaurants, I do not refrain from trying anything new and will always hope that people to appreciate it'' he smiles.

 

How does he stay fresh and relevant in the fickle culinary and nightlife industries, I wonder? ''Firstly, I enjoy what I do; passion is key. I stepped into this industry because I had an unshakable belief that 'this is it' and after that there was no stopping me. My great admiration for what's happening in the industry is what keeps me updated and ready to go at all times and therefore I’ve put my heart and soul into what I do. Our focus has always been understanding demands of the target audience, blending it with our concept and hoping for a good feedback. Secondly, we play with the menu every few months! And thirdly, my focus is also on 'staff motivation'; at the end of the day, it's them on the floor, it's them dealing with clients on a daily basis, and clients recommendation is crucial to the success of the business. Speaking of business, I attribute the success of my brands to ‘divine passion'. On a serious note, one thing I make sure to give guests a memorable experience with something fresh on the platter; I always create plush but non-snooty outlets and this welcoming gesture is loved by clients; I believe in the constant involvement by the owner and the team to understand evolving client demands and try to adapt ourselves; since Delhi clientele gets bored quickly, we work on memorable events to give them something fresh!! Also, one of the attributes to the runaway success of our brands is innovating ideas and themes — we are constantly working on this. I think innovation is the elixir of growth and success. Our asset has been 'creating a Product' which others willingly recommend.''

 

Discerning party people are always on a culinary and cocktail quest that reinvents the experience and Aman's brands clearly fill this need gap. Does he look for a theme or a business model that would fill a niche, I ask? ''Frankly speaking, I am one of these discerning party people [grinning]. Whenever I'm working on a new venture and creating a property, I'm on a constant lookout for amalgamations of creative concepts, themes and then fit in cuisines. I always look at things from a customer's eye and that helps me offer the party peeps the best of culinary and nightlife.'' I've noticed that Aman Bhandari doesn’t downplay the value of design when he launches a restaurant or pub in a prime location. ''When I work on design, I envisage a set-up which is palatial and reachable. We believe in creating an ambience where our clients can experience luxury. When you go out for a good time, you usually look for eye-pleasing ambience and delectable food. Both the location and the feel of a restaurant plays a central role in determining how guests feel so we work towards designing a place that sets the mood and blends in with the location.'' Impressive.

 

You've travelled extensively. In your opinion, what sets Indian nightlife apart from other world party capitals, I grill him. ''Indian nightlife is quite erratic and has a lot of loopholes which need immediate amendments! For instance, early shut downs, licensing system and security. Many of us are yet to learn 'party etiquettes' and 'alcohol consumption conducts'. This is the scenario in nightclubs in many cities but Delhi has it more!! Also, it is NOT just about nightclubs; overseas, we have jam sessions and concerts on a regular basis and of course that has been missing here for a while. I would love to entertain myself with a monthly concert at a lavish stadium in Delhi and also 72-hour Sunburn or TomorrowLand events!! So, basically, the public and private sector need to work together to ensure we are taken seriously on the global nightlife map. And, yeah, one thing that really puts me off is how lounges and clubs are being used as banquet halls. Oh how the mighty has fallen!!''

 

Looking forward, what's your next big goal, I ask, as I wrap up the insightful interview. '''Not Just Dilli' and 'Hawkers Chowk' are two projects I'm very excited about. Particularly, Hawkers Chowk because with this I'm planning to bring street food from around the world — under one roof! It's been a few months since I've been working on these projects but since I've been occupied with my other ventures they have been compromised. That said, we are pretty much ready now and will be ready to serve pretty soon.''
 

Aman Bhandari
Aman Bhandari
 
09-JULY-2017
 
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