Home Food Service Gaurish Rangnekar opens Vicinia Cafe-Bar

Gaurish Rangnekar opens Vicinia Cafe-Bar

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What made you set up Vicinia Café-Bar?

The concept of an all-day European Cafe Bar was initiated by me and my partner Nikhil Bhatia as I strongly felt that there was a huge potential for a café bar. The 1,000 sqft

Vicinia is located at the crossroad junction of Kemps Corner Warden Road and Napean Sea Road in upscale South Mumbai. It also neighbours areas like Altamount Road and Peddar Road. There has been a dearth of such places in the vicinity and Vicinia, I think is surely a blessing to this area. I take care of operations and Food & Beverage, while NIkhil and my third partner Neha Khatri take care of the finances.

How is Vicinia positioned differently from The Den?

We have been extremely fortunate with Vicinia Café-Bar, owing to its prominent location – which is its USP in a way. There are other restaurants in the neighbourhood, but they are classics and serve different cuisines. So, in that sense, we are niche and seen as a cozy, yet upscale European style cafe bar. We serve gourmet food, beer, wine, imported vodka, whiskey and cocktails, burgers, pizza, sandwiches, French, Greek, Mediterranean, and Italian dishes. A meal for two (with alcohol) is an affordable Rs 1,400 only, and since it is open from 10am to 1.30am, people walk in for breakfast and brunch as well.

When I started The Den, way back in February 2010, it was Bandra’s first exclusive wine bar and one of the finest in Mumbai. Over a period of time, we revamped the concept and today, The Den is an evening watering-hole or in fact, more of a pub. It is now four years old and is very well known for its
karaoke nights on Tuesdays and mix taped Dj nights on Thursdays. The Den is settled now and runs on auto pilot mode.

Vicinia Café Bar on the other hand, is an all-day European style café-bar where the food is more gourmet and the décor and ambience more upscale. It has a very universal approach and caters to youngsters, families, expats, whereas, the Den is meant more for youngsters and the nightlife-loving audience. Also, Vicinia has its own USP such as a notable wine list, probably the best beer collection, gourmet food and an all-day approach. So, both the entities have their own charm and strengths.

How has bartending evolved in India?

I have done a wine certificate course from the Cape Wine Academy, and a Masters in Mixology course from The New York Bartending School. I think today India is emerging as a fairly good market for wines. People’s tastes have evolved and they are appreciating wines, and awareness of different wines and their quality has grown tremendously. There are a lot of expats living in India, which again creates demand for good wines. There are also a lot of good Indian winemakers, and wine bars are fairly acceptable in India now. In fact, wines are an important element of both Vicinia and The Den, and we stock some of the finest labels from all over the world.

The bartending scene in India has witnessed tremendous changes in the last few years.  Bartenders are more qualified and well-versed now. There is flamboyance in the trade, and we now have flair bartenders, mixologists and people doing molecular mixology, and  customers are enjoying visiting bars a lot more. Flair bartending is suddenly fashionable and we have bartenders displaying their talent and expertise. In fact, flair bartenders charge a premium and there is immense scope, as it is an art. I think there is a huge potential in this and a lot of youngsters are pursuing it seriously.
You started the first portable bar service. How did the idea emerge?

While I was living in New York during the tenure of my course, I came across a mobile bar, which also offered many other services. I started a portable bar in Mumbai, which has become very popular. In just two and a half years, we have done several house parties, celebrity parties, store launches, and commercial events where our barmobile service has been offered.

What kind of investment is required for formats like yours?

Generally, for any restaurant, bar or café, taking into account both fixed and variable  investment, one has to look at about Rs 1 crore as initial investment. It takes about two and a half years for any business in the hospitality sector to break even. The Den is at its peak and we have seen a 15 percent year-on-year growth. Barmobile too is doing really well, but its too early to talk about Vicinia as it only a year and half old