Theres nothing like scrumptious food,relaxing ambience and pleasant service to make for a happy dining experience. But when the meal is over and the bill is paid,there are usually only fading memories of the good times. In Pune,however,restaurants are giving away or selling customised merchandise to ensure that guests carry along a bit of the restaurant back home and enjoy a deeper relationship.
While the concept isnt a new one at High Spirits,they make it a point to keep coming up with innovative merchandise. Our merchandise is very event-centric. We have different kinds for the various events we host. During Christmas we hand goodie bags to our regulars just because its the season for sharing and showing that you care, says Khodu Irani,owner of High Spirits. Launched earlier this year,WTF bar at Phoenix Marketcity also hands out innovative merchandise to regulars as part of their gifting exercise every quarter. We give out a lot of items that reflect and speak about the brand WTF. This is not just a part of our conventional branding design,but an extension of an individual,so they love using our give-aways, says Akshe Kaul,owner WTF.
Though Malaka Spice rarely gives away gifts,the restaurant has been selling merchandise to guests since 2010 so that guests can preserve a memory of the time they spent. The main aim is to allow guests to take a part of the restaurant home. Many guests have fond memories of their time at Malaka Spice and they never had anything tangible to remind them of the dining experience so we started offering merchandise to people who were leaving Pune,including several expats,or those who visit us very regularly, says Shrijith Ravindran,Chief Operating Officer,Malaka Spice.
While the Malaka Spice logo appears on T-shirts,caps,hats,mugs,umbrellas,coasters and caricatures,WTF gives away wrist-band pendrives and shot glasses apart from umbrellas,funny coasters and caps. At High Spirits patrons get badges every Friday night at the Local Scene event,calendars at year-ender parties and CDs during the High Cookout or other live gigs and album launches at the venue. We have been making our brand merchandise for six years and it is very High Spirits-centric,like the mug is a High hangover mug. Our calendars feature photographs of regular guests and events hosted by us, says Irani.
Kaul,a Rajnikanth fan who launched WTF on the actors birthday,has come up with a series of customised Rajnikanth-themed coasters specially made as giveaways for some of his favourite guests. Gifts are given to all our loyal guests as a token of appreciation and gratitude for their patronage. Our merchandise vendors in Mumbai and Pune are very competent and manufacture various types of items. We add a personal touch by giving the gift,which usually has WTF branding,along with a personal thank you note, says Kaul.
The merchandise at Malaka Spice is inspired by stories of food,origin,ambience,guests and the restaurants team. The coasters have small stories on the origin of various delicacies from southeast Asia that have inspired our food; like those of rice balls and dim sums. The story of the dragon which has been the abiding motif of the
Chinese culture plays an important role in our kitchen,which is why our food is so hot,as well as in designing our merchandise, says Ravindran. The Live Life,Love Life T-shirts are a tribute to their former chef Chiru Chandawarkar,who recently
succumbed to cancer.