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A Starry Platter


From influencing style fads to travel trends, movies and TV shows have always proved their might. While the concept of themed restaurants is nothing new, restaurateurs are now using star power to make their establishment stand apart from the rest. It’s obvious that fans of a show or an actor would definitely want to visit a restaurant that is dedicated to those that they idolise, while others are likely to check out the place due to the curiosity factor. But do such projects have a long shelf life?

Fandom fables

Bhaijaanz, a restaurant in Bandra, was the first in this category to open its doors. Dedicated to Salman Khan, the place is all about the actor’s movies, dialogues, looks etc. Another recent enterprise, is the Delhi-based Garam Dharam, which pays homage to Dharmendra. Stars apart, TV shows, too, are on this list. Winterfell in Srinagar is all about Game of Thrones, the show that has legions of fans all over the world. Your GoT journey begins with the house flags that flutter outside the cafe. The decor also includes banners of various houses like the Stark, Targaryen, Baratheon, and, of course, Lannister. And then there’s the famous Iron Throne, which is currently occupied by Cersei Lannister. The cafe also houses various other artefacts like the ‘Hand of the King’ pin that was worn by Ned Stark as well as Tyrion Lannister. There are more such places popping up across India these days, and looks like this trend is only going to catch on in the future.

Know your stars

Places like Garam Dharam and Bhaijaanz are often created by people, who themselves are fans of the actors. The endeavour is often to provide fans a connect with their favourite actor. Rahul Kanal, co-owner Bhaijaanz, says, “There have been Bollywood-themed restaurants before, but there was nothing that focused only on one individual. We are from Bandra and have been his fans, so when we decided to open a restaurant, we thought this would be a great idea. We were the first ones to do that. We have a special menu based on what he likes. The décor is all about him. There are currency notes that replicate his films’ release dates. These are original notes that are collected and matched with his release dates. We have various other things that people associate with him. Like a chandelier made of cycle chains and rims, because he is such a fitness freak and people know about his love for cycles. We have created a balcony just like the one he has at his home at Galaxy Apartments where he comes out to meet his fans. The menu card is like a comic book about our story.” Also, among the attractions here are the dialogues on the walls that greet you as you enter, to a table created with blue stone bracelets (inspired by the accessory the actor wears). The same hold true for capital-based Garam Dharam. “Dharmendra’s movies, dialogues and songs are legendary, keeping this in mind I thought of giving the capital its first restaurant inspired by him. The place has many quirky additions, like at the entrance we have a bioscope in the form of a podium with posters of Dharmendra’s popular movies to famous dialogues or graffiti on the walls that are dedicated to his famous dialogues,” says Umang Tewari, founder of Garam Dharam.

Not just a namesake

Rahul says that it’s not enough to open a restaurant themed on a star and leave it at that. To make it a successful project, owners need to keep adding to the experience. “You can’t abandon the concept once you set up a restaurant or the fans will feel cheated. It’s important to stay true to the theme. At Bhaijaanz, we give a discount every time a movie of his releases. If you come with three tickets, you get 30 per cent discount and so on. Salman is known for his charitable deeds, so every time a movie of his releases, we hold a show for the orphan and abandoned kids. We aren’t denying that it’s a business too, but we ensure that we don’t lose the connect that the venture is based on.”

It can get bigger

Though some may wonder about the growth of such restaurants, owners feel it is a sustainable idea. “Sustained craze and frenzy towards actors gives us scope for expansion. We started with Garam Dharam in CP, Delhi and are opening another on the Punjab-Haryana Highway and more outlets are coming up in places like Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Jalandhar and more,” says Umang. This trend is welcome, it shouldn’t exploit the fans or the name of the celeb, feels Rahul. “It should always be a mass product. It can’t be only about how much it’s earning, it has to be more than that. It should be with a feeling of giving something back too.”

Food facts

While it’s the pull of the actors that brings in the crowd, like any other restaurant, food plays a pivotal role. “Concept restaurants are interesting. I do believe though that the main focus of a restaurant should be its food, drinks and ambiance. Customers, though initially enthralled by these thematic restaurants, are only converted to repeat patrons if they are satisfied by the services and the impact of the food and hospitality it has on them. If the restaurant is able to offer the best service there is to offer, with spectacular food and beverage selection along with an interesting concept or theme to the space, then they’ve got the right formula for success,” says Zorawar Kalra, Founder and Managing Director, Massive Restaurants Pvt. Ltd. Rahul feels that the cost factor is very important. “The food has to be affordable. Just because it’s based on a celeb, you can’t hike the costs. You have to keep in mind that most youngsters have a budget. Value for money has to be there.”

Stars versus shows

While shows may last a few seasons, actors have a bigger shelf life, especially when it comes to superstars like Salman. So does that make them a better bet for such projects? “Cafes based on shows like Friends and Games of Thrones is a good idea but they have a pre-defined target audience. Their audience is limited and is more youth-centric,” says Umang. Rahul says, “Now people want to hang out at places that are more interactive. Game of Thrones is a fad with youngsters and if it connects you to it, then it’s going to work. It’s about that connect. Be it movies like Harry Potter, or shows like Friends, it will do well. As a fan, if you compare Salman to any individual in or around India today, you can’t match his persona. Take someone like Amitabh Bachchan, for example. He has a great connect with the audience even at this age. You can’t go wrong. Till the time the name of such stars is there, there will be a connect, that will never fade away.”

Source: DNA India

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