0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

young turks | IST

Young Turks: Here's how Riyaaz Amlani of 'Impresario' built a restaurant empire

Mini

In the last 20 years, there has been a revolution of sorts in the restaurant business and customers are now spoilt for choice. There is more of everything. There is super specialisation in every cuisine that you can think of, says Riyaaz Amlani of Impresario.

Walking in the lanes of Mumbai, the young Riyaaz Amlani, who was out on a date, could not find a cosy coffee. The cafes, so ubiquitous today, were absent back then and, that was Amlani's first taste of an opportunity. Years later, while working as an executive who helped set up bowling alleys, Amlani decided to pick up the cup of entrepreneurship.
In 2001, he started Mocha, a cafe styled on the Moroccan public coffee houses. Twenty years later, that coffee house called Mocha near Churchgate in Mumbai has transformed into a house of brands --- Impresario --- which now operates a network of 57 restaurants across 16 cities in indie.
The list of brands started by Amlani is too many to name at one go. From the popular hangout for millennials ---'Social’, and fine-diner Smoke House Deli to even a cafe run by staff with hearing and speech impairment ‘Iishaara’. Amlani has mastered the psychology behind how young India wants to eat out.
In 2017, L Catterton, a global private equity firm backed by luxury multinational company Louis Vuitton, acquired a majority stake in Impresario. The investment helped Amlani expand at a faster clip especially in tier 2 & 3 towns. But, the pandemic arrived to pull the tablecloth from under the plates, and so it did!
However, as home-delivery kept the taste buds going, Amlani set up cloud kitchens for delivery-only brands She, Lucknowee and Goodness To Go. More such brands are on the way. From hiring dabbawalas in Mumbai to home deliver food to launching an outlet in Dehradun. There is a lot of cooking at Impresario.
When asked over the last two decades, what have been the big shifts that have shaped where the industry is today? Amlani said there has been a sea of change, "When I started off in 2001 when you couldn't find a really great restaurant outside five-star hotels. So if you wanted to go somewhere between lunch and dinner, your options were either to go to a five-star coffee shop or to go to Udipi restaurant, there was nothing else around. There were maybe one or two fine dining restaurants that were existing outside five stars."
However, in the last 20 years, there has been a revolution, and customers are now spoilt for choice. There's more of everything. There is a super specialisation in every cuisine that you can think of, said Amlani.
Click here
On the ease of doing business, he said, "It is still one of the most regulated businesses that you could hope to be in, or hope not to be. We still need about 26 different licences and NOCs just to be able to sell a sandwich. A few years ago, we were dealing with about 36 but now, it's down to about 24 to 26, depending on the city you are in."
"One of our challenges is we don't have a uniform code for restaurants - it differs from state to state city to city municipal limit to municipal limits. It is still a very complex, regulatory framework to navigate but hopefully, things will get a little easier in the future as we continue to lobby as an industry to get a single-window clearance is and ease up on the regulations a little bit," he said.
For the entire interesting conversation, watch the video.