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SERIAL RESTAURATEUR PRIYANK SUKHIJA

Jasmeen Dugal  (click here to know more about this blogger)

He's young, creative and hot property at all the parties he hosts or attends. He's also a savvy restaurateur and a man with the midas touch — meet Priyank Sukhija. With entrepreneurial vision, the young man behind the success of 30-odd fine and casual dining restaurants in Delhi sees—and then seizes—opportunity.

 

I always had the impression about Priyank that he believes in himself and works with tunnel-vision to achieve his goal… one after the other. Lazeez Affaire, Boulevard, Raas, WareHouse Cafe, TownHouse, Flying Saucer Cafe, Fork You, The Project, Hybrid, Lutyens Cocktail House, Lights Camera Action, Open House… the list goes on! How does he do it, I wonder. ''I always give preference to prime real estate and have a sixth sense when it comes to property. I visualise how I can transform the empty space'', he tells me over lunch at his newest casual dining restaurant Open House that spreads over 9000 sq ft. It's a direction that he follows closely since he has properties in the toniest neighbourhoods — Khan Market, HKV, Connaught Place, SundarNagar, Epicuria and Chanakyapuri. 

 

Sukhija concentrates on the complete experience rather than just the food and drinks. So even though he opens a restaurant each week, each one of them is unlike the other in terms of the interiors, the music, the food and drinks. ''I'm a creative person. I like creating new concepts that are unheard of. Replicating the same concept does not give me a high! After my first restaurant, I fell in love with each aspect of the business. I loved the menu creation, the food, the cocktails with a twist, the artistic interiors. So I kept doing it, one concept at a time. I launch a restaurant, oversee its operations myself because I will not allow it to sit still or stagnate and simultaneously I create another. The process goes on. I seek inspiration in travel! And I pay attention to the smallest detail right from the concept, name and logo to the interiors, music, menu and daily operations. I also hire a solid team that is not afraid to be creative''. It's true! I can see passion in his eyes and the personal touch when he describes how he thought up quirky names for cocktails at Lights Camera Action, steak-and-burger menu at Fork You, European cuisine served in fine cutlery at Lutyen's Cocktail House or the ultimate casual dining experience at Hybrid which transforms from a grunge-chic cafe to an Italian restaurant at 8, following which the DJ takes over at 10:30; the menu, the staff uniform and the lighting change to be in sync with the ambience… whoa! Lutyens Cocktail House is perhaps his only departure from the casual dining theme. "It's all about when you walk in and that feeling of grandeur. I wanted a glamorous ambience, the sense of getting dressed up for drinks and dinner. Lutyens is different from the others; it's a notch up in terms of formality.”

 

So what's the difference in culinary trends here in India and overseas, I ask him? ''I operate in the casual dining space because that's what works. There is a gap for places where one can chill, converse, enjoy good music and indulge in comfort food at any hour and not just in the evenings. Unlike overseas where people go to a restaurant for dinner and then head out to a nightclub, here people want the complete experience'' he explains indicating the hi-energy music and chic wall artefacts at Open House where we were indulging in Cantonese cuisine for luncheon. He sure has the concept down to a T. Sukhija takes six-odd months to whip up a batch of success even though he's working on five-six projects simultaneously. Someone coined it rightly — he gets antsy if he isn't planning a new venture! So what's the secret of his success, I ask? He grins. ''Location is of prime importance—and the place must be huge. Secondly, I socialise a lot so that helps me understand what people want. Of course, the food has to be stellar which is why I hire the best chefs. Interiors must be unique; everything is visual for me as well as being about the food.'' 

 

So after opening 30-odd restaurants that are running successfully in Delhi NCR, with a plan to open quite a few more, Priyank is expanding his business in Pune and Mumbai. In fact, SkyBar is already a rage in Pune! Deeply revered as the 'serial restaurateur' who transformed HKV and Connaught Place from a quiet district to a hip neighbourhood with pubs and restaurants, he has set an example that's rare to replicate. It's a win-win for the entrepreneur, for the city and for the food-and-beverage industry. As we wrap up, he describes a pioneering gastropub 'Lord Of The Drinks' that's all set to throw open its doors… yes he's at it again! Respect.
 

PRIYANK SUKHIJA
 
11-JULY-2015
 
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12-JULY-2015 manjeet singh
youNgest busniess tycoOn ...
 
 
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