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Cheers! Riyaaz Amlani


Having started out as an outsider, Riyaaz Amlani is now a household name in the Indian hospitality scene. This hospitality wiz and coffee baron, C.E.O. and Managing Director at Impresario Entertainment & Hospitality Pvt. Ltd. is now the President of the NRAI (National Restaurant Association of India). Riyaaz has, over the years, established 42 restaurants across 15 cities in India! The plethora of brands under Impresario include Mocha, Smoke House Deli, Salt Water Cafe, Smoke House Grill, Salt Water Grill, Smoke House Room, Le Kebabiere, Prithvi Cafe, The Tasting Room and the very recent and successful brand SOCIAL. Riyaaz chats with Afternoon D&C feature writer Mansi Shanfiap about being a part of the exciting and upcoming Indian Nightlife Convention Awards and how his journey into the nightlife industry came to be.

What made you decide to get into the Indian hospitality Industry?
Back in 2001, I was in the entertainment business. A large part was driven from the fact that there was nothing much to do in Mumbai, you know, besides going for a movie; you would find Udipi restaurants, but nothing in the middle. So I thought that you know, a coffee shop would be a good idea as an activity, as a thing to do, between odd hours, like traditional non-restaurant hours. Indian audiences needed a place to hang out. So we came up with this concept at that time, along with Barista and Cafe Coffee Day. So that’s how I entered the hospitality industry.

What is the first step to break Into that industry, seeing as it is quite extensive?
Back then, it was easier. There wasn’t so much competition. One must be passionate about hosting people, making sure they have a good time, and looking after them. I think if you feel very passionately about that, you’ll make a good hospitality person.

What was the Inspiration for INCA?
See, nightlife is a very important part of the economy. It is nightlife which brings a lot of tourists. In the most visited cities in the world, you’ll see a direct correlation between tourism and nightlife. See Vegas with 55 million people, London with about 50 million people, Dubai with about 40 million people. These.cities offer great nightlife. India, with all its lions and tigers and elephants and mountains and history and culture, sees 8 million people. So I think that nightlife is a very important, yet very ignored industry. I think this convention is to recognize the nightlife industry and make the government realize that it needs to take this industry quite seriously. It is often confused with a moralistic issue, which should not be the case. There’s a very high rate of employment and we contribute highly to the economy. So, this is an attempt to bring to the attention of the country how important the nightlife business is.

How do you reckon INCA will benefit the Indian layman?
So, this is an industry-focused convention and awards. It is by the industry, for the industry. But it will benefit the layman, because best practices and a thriving nightlife industry will definitely contribute to tourism, which will in turn contribute to the livability index of the city.

Is there a ‘mantra’ that can be repeated to upcoming entrepreneurs?
I think the mantra is to ‘Be creative, be original and be very passionate about your customers’.

One must be passionate about hosting people, making sure they have a good time, and looking after them. I think if you feel very passionately about that, you’ll make a good -hospitality person.

You were someone else at the tender age of 16. How did that transition come to be?
Uh, I think we all grow up, don’t we? Expect me, maybe. I think it was just being a 16/17-year-old boy, very excited to go out and be social, but not having the opportunity or the places to actually meet people. Coffee shops and cafes are places where you can actually meet other people. Different classes of society and different types of people can interact with one another, and share ideas and thoughts. That, to me, is a very exciting aspect of what we do. We help build connections. With those connections, who knows what can come up?

Between being the CEO of Impresario and the President of NRAI, how do you find time to maintain the work-home balance?
*laughs* There’s no such thing as balance. Equilibrium is never found in balance. Um, you know, if you want to achieve something, or build something special, you have to make some sacrifices.

Meet Riyaaz Amlani and
other stars of the Indian
and International night life scene.
To register/attend the Indian
Nightlife Convention
and Awards 2016
log on to

Source : Afternoon Despatch & Courier

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