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When heritage gives a new twist to bars and restaurants

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BENGALURU: Remember the iconic Pub World on Residency Road which shut down after 28 years of operation due to the highway ban? Watering hole Sotally Tober is opening in its place next month. 1Q1 Kitchen and Bar was once a wellknown printing press on Queen’s Road. Banjara Melting Pot in Koramangala was once legendary artist MF Husain’s home.

Opening a restaurant in an iconic space is trending in Bengaluru these days. Restaurants like to serve more than just food now. A story behind the establishment is thus the new conversation starter. Owners say that iconic spaces are inspiring and work as a good marketing tool to increase brand recall.

Karthik Shankar, partner at Sotally Tober, says, “Capitalising on this iconic real estate space was a no-brainer. We receive 10-15 passerby daily at the construction site enquiring about the upcoming space. On learning, they even take selfies at the spot. It’s creating the buzz for my place already.”

Amit Ahuja of The Open Box and Misu is opening a concept restaurant in place of a well-known Parsi deli in Indiranagar this month. “Red Fork had a huge fan following. A space that has been successful in the past is positive and inspiring. While it poses a challenge to create your own identity, it helps in increasing footfall as patrons return to see what you have done with the space they loved,” says Ahuja.

Heritage is also haute in the F&B space as restaurateurs see a happy marriage of two brand names. It took a year for restaurateur Anirudh Kheny to turn the gloomy 10,000-sqft printing press of the 1960s into 1Q1 Bar and Kitchen with design influences from art deco era and arches of the High Court of Karnataka.

“My first reaction when I was approached to pick up the space was that of curiosity. This very feeling prompted me to give it a nod as it will be perfect the conversation starter for diners too. It gave me 30% more advantage and helped me make a statement in the pub city,” says Kheny. He observes that Bengalureans like to learn and post about the philosophy of a place on social media that ultimately helps in increasing recall value.

Seafood restaurant Banjara Melting Pot is housed in MF Husain’s bungalow in Koramangala that the artist built in the early 90s with red brick masonry. The eatery continues to pay homage by retaining the external structure, a leaning tree and a red letter-box at the entrance painted by Husain.

Food expert Aslam Gafoor adds examples of French Loaf patisserie in a colonial home in Richmond Town and Hard Rock Café on St Marks Road that has retained the façade of The Bible Society of India.

“The trend is quite a coup for restaurateurs as diners are pulled to such spaces for their charm, story and unique dining experience. It is also a good way to retain dwindling heritage structures of Bengaluru instead of razing them to the ground,” says Gafoor.

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