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American restaurant chains got Hyderabad on their platter



HYDERABAD: Move over Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru. Hyderabad is fast emerging as a preferred ‘tasting’ ground for global casual dining restaurant chains. After iconic American brand Hard Rock Cafe trooped into the `City of Nizams and Pearls’ nearly a decade ago, and others like Chili’s, TGIF, Playboy Club followed suit, its now the turn of yet another American casual dining and sports bar biggie – Buffalo Wild Wings — to wing its way to Hyderabad.

The chain, which has nearly 1,230 outlets globally, is making its India debut in Hyderabad with what is its largest restaurant outside of the US with a 16,000 sft outlet at the upmarket Jubilee Hills area.”The only other outlets bigger than the Hyderabad one are located in California and Manhattan,” said Kedar Selagamsetty, founder and director, M Kitchens, the master franchisee for the American chain in India that is co-promoted by Tollywood star Allu Arjun.

What’s more, Buffalo Wild Wings will be carrying out the global pilot for its lounge concept – branded B-Dubs 2.0 – in Hyderabad, said techpreneur turned foodpreneur Sam Reddy, who is the CEO of M Kitchens. “If it works here, it will be replicated globally,” he said.

B-Dubs plans to open two outlets in Hyderabad

 M Kitchens, which has invested around ₹100 crore in the venture through funds pooled in by the promoters, plans to open two outlets in Hyderabad and one in Bengaluru by mid 2018, before expanding to grow to 25 outlets in Tier-1and II cities like Bengaluru, Chennai, Kochi, Vizag, Vijayawada and Mysuru in South India over the next three to five years, said Reddy “We will be looking at going pan-India after 2019-20 as we have the first right of refusal,” said Selagamsetty, adding that they plan to explore the QSR format with BDubs Express outlets in high footfall areas like airports, malls and IT hubs.

So what makes Hyderabad the preferred testing ground for foreign food brands looking to tap the fast growing Indian market and for new concepts like microbreweries that have caught on like wildfire in the past couple of years? According to food critic Sankalp Vishnu, Hyderabad has always been a melting pot of cultures and cuisines and hence an ideal ground for experimentation for for any food-based product. “People in the city are more open and receptive to exploring different cuisines unlike more conservative markets like Chennai or Kolkata, which is why it has emerged as a preferred testing ground for many restaurant chains,” he said.

“The Hyderabad crowd is increasingly becoming more cosmopolitan and vibrant thanks to influx of the globetrotting IT crowd, which has got a taste of global cuisine and is more willing to experiment. Till just a few years ago it was very conservative with people thinking of nothing beyond biryani but that is changing rapidly which is why the number of global restaurant chains that have opened up here is phenomenal and more can’t wait to have more,” added techie and avid foodie Rahul Basu, who has made Hyderabad his home.

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