Culture on a platehttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/culture-on-a-plate/

Culture on a plate

Alternate culture and lifestyle activities are taking over the city’s restaurants,pubs and cafes.

All that restaurateur Lakhan Jethani wanted was to open a bar that offered its patrons a “different” experience. One that its competitors didn’t offer. At IBAR — an interactive lounge at Bandra Reclamation,he installed electronic table tops with geometrical patterns that move when touched,introduced a molecular mixology cocktail menu and the facility to place orders through an iPad. Even as word got around,and curious people starting walking in,Jethani realised that a successful bar — even a tech-savvy one — needs more than one reason to draw crowds regularly.

Which is why Jethani agreed when Culture Shoq — a company promoting indie-urban culture — approached the bar to host their Open Mic nights comprising music,poetry and even magic. “Things have changed as customers expect a lot more,” he says,adding,“With our lounge,community events with Culture Shoq and themed nights,we offer an interactive experience like no other in the city.” Soon,IBAR will introduce a jukebox that can be powered by an iPad.

Barring such technology-driven ambience,the idea of providing a culture and lifestyle experience beyond epicurean delights is catching on. Temperance,a three-storied cafe and deli under construction in Bandra,is projecting itself as a dedicated “cultural hub” and has already announced a book and movie club. Bonobo,Bandra,promotes indie culture with events such as Wobble,which features drum and bass music,in addition to hosting AntiMatter that initiates dialogues and discussions on “promoting good ideas”. Woodside Inn,Colaba,organises a cycle tour on one Sunday every month,while its Andheri counterpart hosts beer-tasting workshops.

Even while popular concepts such as karaoke and ladies night still exist at several places,many new concepts are coming up now. Wild Wild West,a pub in Fun Republic,Andheri,has started LOL Knights,a weekly stand-up gig that charges visitors Rs 500. More recently,Cafe Zoe started hosting events like the preview of art gallery The Loft’s Project Square Food and Pour Me Coffee’s forum on social entrepreneurship. The finale of Fosters LOL Evenings will be held there on Sunday.

“We want to be more than what people expect from a restaurant,” says Tarini Mohinder,managing director and founder,Black Sheep Hospitality,adding,“We want to be a community space that brings together like-minded people.” The cafe allows individuals and organisations to use their mezzanine level to hold cultural events.

According to the management of Out of the Blue,which is one of the first joints in Mumbai to promote alternate entertainment,such activities have long-term value. “We’re in the business of memories. We aim to provide customers with unforgettable experiences,” says Sartaj Bedi,general manager,Out of the Blue,which has a gallery for upcoming artists,wine tastings and spa lunches,and even comedy and karaoke nights.

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Jethani believes that adding culture and lifestyle to the menu is an important evolutionary process. “You may have the right audience — in our case,our location in Bandra helped,” he says. “But you have to keep moving forward,providing a wholesome experience with food,ambience and interactive activities to keep patrons coming back,” he adds.