In an interview with Restaurant India, Ranjeet Bindra, Owner, Aallia Hospitality talks about starting a sea food restaurant in Mumbai's fast evolving market.
When did you plan to enter into the food business?
Aallia Hospitality was started in 2011. Our first venture was a night club called Rehab, which we later rebranded as Or-G. It was extremely successful. Our second establishment was Villa 69, and the third one was Gangstas. Our concepts were good and they did really well initially. However, given the areas our establishments were in, we started to see our sales drop as more and more bars began mushrooming, almost every week. People started choosing places to go to determined not by the quality they were getting but, by what was the newest opening. We soon realised that we had to be different and stand out - I was keen to bring a sense of soul into our establishments, which led to our restructuring the company totally. We consider it a great coup to have entered into a partnership with Chef Kelvin Cheung, who brings enthusiasm, passion, and the same sense of vision to our properties, as we do.
What made you name it Bastian?
Bastian is named after Sebastian, the crab from The Little Mermaid.
We have seen that your menu is a mix of American and Indian sea food delights. What was the reason you opted to start a sea food restaurant?
We felt there was a gap in the market in terms of seafood, especially in Bandra. Chefs Kelvin Cheung and Boo Kim were confident they could put together a ridiculously good menu, which they did!
How many outlets you are running presently and what is the plan going forward?
Under Aallia Hospitality, we have two outlets, Bastian and One Street Over. I also Villa 69 which will be going under renovation soon, and an investor in Jade Court, a soon to be launched restaurant, in Chicago.
I personally believe Indians are matured today in terms of picking their ingredients. From where did you source the raw materials for your restaurants?
Chefs Kelvin and Boo ensure that everything we source is of the upmost quality. They visit markets, vendors, and even assist new entrants to the market, like local cheese makers, in perfecting their products.
What was the major challenge starting the restaurant?
Finding the right people who share our vision, and are able to perfectly execute it, is what we always find to be the most challenging part of opening any new restaurant.
Lately, food is accompanied with drink and some entertainment in restaurants. What can we see you playing around this?
We take our food and bar program very seriously, while our venues are relaxed and laid back. Our bartenders are friendly and knowledgeable, and are always interacting with the guests. Our chefs explain dishes tableside, something we consider a USP, as a lot of restaurants do not offer this level of interaction.
Talking about the customer base. Who is your regular customer and what is the average footfall?
We don’t have one specific kind of customer at our outlets. At One Street Over and Bastian, we have a mix of locals (town and suburbs), expats, and tourists alike. Bastian has been booked solid since its opening while One Street Over is likely to have a multiple table wait on the weekends.
What is your personal favourite take in the restaurant?
One Street Over- chicken meatballs and our mac n cheese potato skins
Bastian - Whole market fish in one of the multiple sauces that the Chefs offer, which allow you to personalise your dish.
What is your expansion plan?
We have quite a few exciting projects coming up in the near future, both in India and abroad, in 2016 and 2017. We aren’t able to share those details just yet, but we’ll be sure to drop hints via our social media once things are more firmed up.