Saturday, January 21, 2012

Inflation or Insanity

I am laid up in bed due to a recurring inflammation of my peroneal tendon, a terrific pain that makes it impossible to put even a feather on my left foot. The doc advises complete bed rest, so as i try to kill time and work from home i happened upon my credit card statement from American Express.

The little telephone number marked at the top was apparently what i owed them, mind immediately flashed back to one of my fav movies of all time Wall Street. Early on in the film Charlie Sheen remarks to John C.McGinley  that American Express probably has a hitman out looking for him.

I find myself in a similar predicament, my love of food and wine is forcing me to cash in my unborn childrens college fund. While i as a lover of the good life can choose to dine frugally or eat at home (eww)i wonder how people running massive, ornate, stand alone restaurants manage as they obviously dont have the luxury of discretion. Especially as there are so many new ones or relatively new ones that seem to have an obsession with size.

Tote on the Turf owned by the Akerkar's of Indigo clocks in at 25000 square feet and has a rumoured monthly rental of INR 35,00,000 ($70,000) Despite the huge bar, a brilliant layout, the restaurant itself has never found a stable identity (unlike Indigo) it is now Neel serving an Indian menu.

Hakka San is massive, at 6500 sq feet and done to the nine's, their sister white elephant Yauatcha is nearly twice the size, with rumored spends on kitchen/decor to be North of 7.5 Cr ($1.5million)which seems irrecoverable from where i sit.
Canvas at the Palladium, Phoenixm Mills is laid across 7500 square feet and looks like it was designed by a Colombian drug lord, the food however was fairly atrocious.

Five star hotels have it easier,  especially the larges ones who have the space and can afford to experiment with them. The Taj came up with Wasabi, a signature restaurant of a well known chef, high ticket price, they fly in all their ingredients. Its a prestige restaurant more than anything else.

A recent conversation with a fellow gastronome revealed that Le Cirque at the Leela Palace does 1.5 Cr/month ($300,000 at present exchange rates) which sounds pretty impressive despite it being one of the most expensive restaurants in the country it seems well patronized. There is probably a sweetheart deal in place with Leela for rent and they get the cache of having such a prestige brand.

Besides, Le Cirque has never been about food, more about excess and a place to be seen. So financially despite the possible largish overhead and operational cost, the place is less of a risk than the stand alone joints that have gone overboard.

Restaurants are a competitive business and once the gimmick wears thin it really comes down to the food and the service but the fundamentals are always the same, you overspend and that makes it hard to get to profitability. Also, i think personally, that dining out has begun to touch stratospheric levels, especially for those of us who do it regularly and are not on expense accounts.

Thankfully places that have recently opened offer a more viable/affordable option, besides the myriad Indian options to dine out on. I wont name any because that would tantamount to advertising. Anyway, just my 0.02 cents until i get back on my feet (literally)



The knife said...

hope you get well soon and start eating out in Bombay again

Gaurav said...

thanks KK, should be out and about this week !

The knife said...

ditto here...was down with fever for a week

Gaurav said...

feel better mate !

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