The ebullient Riyaaz Amlani is no stranger to Chennai. The CEO-MD of Impresario Handmade Restaurants has given one more reason for the city to love him. The 27th outpost of his hugely-popular Social, a concept that introduces an element of fun into co-working, is now at Express Avenue. Here he is, in conversation with DC:
Tell us about this concept of yours:
It is our fastest growing brand and we encourage people to get offline by giving them a space to #eat, #drink, #work and #play under one roof. About six years ago, in 2014, Impresario Handmade Restaurants opened the first outpostin Bangalore - a cafe that is a co-working space during the day, and doubles up as a high-energy bar after office hours. Such is the functionality of this place that it has now become a hub for various people and communities, and has been replicated in six cities -Delhi NCR, Chandigarh, Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, and now Chennai. This concept has now opened its doors to Chennai at Express Avenue Mall this week -- the 27th outpost in the country.
What is the vibe that you have tried to create? What’s new that you’re offering to the folks of Chennai?
My concept is to make someone feel at home, smile and just enjoy the space between the walls. I think design plays an important role and we try to create a space where people can bump into each other a lot more than they would in any other space. At Chennai, the design scheme is inspired by the colourful and neon-heavy 80s and the vaporwave aesthetic. The terrace area with a cane canopy serves as the perfect in-between space, while the outdoor furniture in natural hues of brown and green helps you loosen up and relax. A VIP area offers a birds-eye view of the restaurant while providing privacy when needed.
We also offer some fun F&B options, including breakfast trays and platters, tandoori pizzas, street food-inspired munchies and thalis. Also available is a special Local Heroes section full of locally-inspired dishes with a fun twist.
Do you remember the vision you had for the first space?
Impresario Handmade Restaurants has always been at the cutting edge of café culture. The vision was always clear: we needed to create a space where people from all walks of life can feel at home. I think we’ve achieved that. Our goal is to always stay as relevant to the individual as to the community around us.
How has the concept developed? What does this brand mean to you and what has it given you?
We were pioneers in the café-as-a-workspace concept. When we started out, we did not expect the idea to become such a revolution in such a short time. Also, what we do becomes the norm. To become an intrinsic part of our community’s everyday life is vital to our eco-system. That’s why I will always hold this concept close to my heart. It helps me connect with my neighbourhood, my community, and be myself.
What made you bring the idea to Chennai?
Why not Chennai? Chennai has a large population of smart and enterprising young people who want to experience new things, different cuisines. They have sufficient disposable income to do so. They are constantly looking for places where they can mingle with creative minds from different fields and have unique experiences, creating further demand in this space. The F&B industry has seen huge potential here as there is a good return on investment. It’s a thriving market.
Where do you plan to open the next outpost?
We will be opening the 28th outpost in Indira Nagar, Bangalore, by mid-February, followed by a few more outposts in the Delhi NCR region, and in new cities like Indore and Hyderabad....