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SERIAL RESTAURATEUR DINESH ARORA

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

Dinesh Arora is a Bollywood fan as much as he is a foodie, hence the name 'Eastman Colour Restaurants' and his newest venture 'Unplugged Courtyard Connaught Place' launched by King Khan himself! The driving force behind a collection of diverse restaurants that set a new model within the hospitality industry, he likes to shake things up a bit by reinventing his restaurants and cuisine concepts. In his words, ''It's not cutting-edge food every time but it's food that shoves the restrictions just enough while remaining comfortable for people.'' You'll find him spending each day checking on one of his restaurants, supervising a behind-schedule construction site, meeting clients. Amid the bustle, he loves being a part of diners' special moments. ''The other evening, I saw youngsters celebrating their grandmother's birthday. It does make it worthwhile, being there. But then you have to get back to the other side of the business'' he smiles. ''The paranoia. You want everything to be right.'' Over to the restaurateur.

 

''Though I was a part of my family's garment business for fourteen years I diversified into hospitality because I'm a foodie at heart and a traveller by choice. Wherever I travelled, I loved flocking restaurants, and the drive and the dream to have a restaurant of my own grew so strong, I ended up opening one. And I never looked back since. I believe I carved a niche in hospitality, with no formal experience, due to experimentation. That's the only word to describe it. I started out with restaurants serving Indian cuisine and gradually shifted to a cafe format, one that appealed more to the millennials. From experimenting with open-air formats to delivering concepts with a healthy blend of entertainment, food and cocktails, to pure-vegetarian casual diners, things began to click and my patrons could feel a breeze of fresh air in my ventures.

 

My focus is on well-defined conceptual restaurants. 'La Roca' is a more polished brand, focussing on experiential dining. My previous brands 'Lights Camera Action' and 'Bombay Bar' have been heavily inspired by my own driving forces, Bollywood being the biggest example. With 'La Roca', I wanted my restaurants to have a more global appeal, vis-a-vis the ambience, cuisines, cocktails, music and the 3D visual mapping! I wanted to engage all the five senses and deliver a brand that subtly awed everyone. 'Unplugged Courtyard' revolutionised the party scene in Delhi NCR when it was launched by King Khan himself. We gave Delhi an open-air paradise! From being a hot-spot for celebrities to partying to being every band's favourite performing venue to being an ideal setting for a Sunday brunch, Unplugged was envisioned to be a brand for every mood, every age-group and every celebration! After its huge success in Connaught Place and Gurgaon, Unplugged Courtyard is set to launch in Noida, Agra, Jaipur, Kanpur, Lucknow and Kolkata.

 

The ever-changing nature of the industry keeps me fresh and on my toes. Trends seem to change in the wink of an eye. To keep myself fresh, I travel. Travelling to new places, eating at new restaurants gives me a brand new perspective, enabling me to draw a parallel with my progress and optimising my relevance in the industry! Travelling has given me perspective. I personally feel Indian restaurants are missing both depth and thorough research on the concept. A lot of newbies think owning a cafe — club — bar — lounge is a fashion statement. Well, it's NOT! Other than that, the 'secret' to keeping customers coming back is patience. It's been the key to success of all my ventures — not rushing into things and keeping a bird's eye view. An everlasting smile, attentiveness and swift service will also keep customers coming back to you!

 

Speaking of the indian culinary scene, diversity is what sets the Indian restaurant scene apart. The fact that many of us Indians are well-travelled and receptive to incoming global concepts and that fact that we're more aware than ever is what sets us apart. The one trend I feel needs to die — deep discounting. it is now a raging restaurant trend. It needs to die soon else, quality will always get trumped by quantity. As a restaurateur I only and only strive to keep my team happy. If I do that right, everything else automatically falls into place! I take that as my primary responsibility. I am my only challenge, only competition.''
 

Dinesh Arora
Dinesh Arora
 
03-JANUARY-2020
 
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