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Foodservice is all about location: Vivek Bahl, Epicuria

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Epicuria food mall, located at New Delhi’s Nehru Place metro station, has extended its retail space to 1 lakh sq. ft. with the inclusion of the some of the Capital’s most popular foodservice brands.
The property, which until May 18th housed 20 different restaurants — from QSR chains such as KFC and Burger King to fine dine outlets, including Benihana and Fio — at its lower ground level, announced its expansion to ground level of the complex and the opening of Social, Lord of the Drinks, Nando’s, Dimcha, Chaayos, Pizza Express, Dhaba by Claridges last night. Taco Bell, The Irish House, and Looks Salon are also to be addd to the mix shortly.
Lord of the drinks
The ground floor, which until recently hosted House of Technology (HOT), an initiative by Unique Infoways, an IT and electronics re-seller, shut shop in March 2016 due to disputes over the lease contract. Now, with a revamped floor, Epicuria aims to double its footfalls in the near future.
“The area has for long been the office capital of South Delhi and also houses a very savvy computer market. It’s also a food and entertainment hub, and has a good catchment around it,” Co-founder, Epicuria, Vivek Bahl said.
“Initially, we had planned to offer a foodservice-plus-CDIT retail mix, but HOT failed and we realised that this is just the right place to offer foodservice. Currently, 5000 people walk into the restaurants and food court everyday. With these new outlets we expect to take this number to 10,000 or even more in no time,” he added.
All restaurants in Epicuria will operate with the minimum guarantee and/or the revenue share model.
Dhaba by Claridges (1)
Epicuria’s location in the high-traffic commercial address Nehru Place, and adjoining residential colonies of New Friends Colony, Greater Kailash, Panchsheel Enclave and Maharani Bagh ensure significant footfalls, especially with the addition of the new tenants. Its placement in a major transit metro station is also extremely lucrative. “Approximately one lakh people transit in and out of the Nehru Place metro station every day,” Bahl pointed out.
“Being present in a metro station is definitely a plus point, but we are not catering only to transit consumers,” he explained. ” You go to Hong Kong and you’ll find a Louis Vuitton store under a subway and it’s doing well. So, location is paramount; what matters is how you place your brand and what is there on offer to consumers.”
While Bahl doesn’t want to limit Epicuria to a transit retail concept, the immense opportunity in travel retailing, especially as a result of Public Private Partnerships (PPP), can not be denied. For instance, the T2 terminal at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, operated by GVK Group, has about 700,000 sq. ft area dedicated to retail, food and beverage, lounges and travel services. Similarly, at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport terminals T1 and T3, operated by Bengaluru-based GMR Group, house around 500 brands spread over 323,000 sq ft.
In the past, Indian Railways and metro stations have been emerging as strong retail spaces. Real estate majors such as Parsvnath Developers already operate eight Metro Malls in Delhi-NCR. In Hyderabad, Larsen & Toubro is on course to creating a stunning retail zone at the upcoming ‘Hyderabad Next’ metro rail project. Hyderabad Next will be housing multiple asset classes such as office space, retail, hospitality, healthcare, etc.
Similarly, Indian Railways — the greatest under-optimised retail real estate space in the country — has also opened up avenues for retail environment. Last year a trial run of an e-catering process, announced by Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation, witnessed partnership of several privately-run foodservice majors with IRCTC to offer food ordering services to train passengers through prior online bookings.
The station-based e-catering model has drawn partnerships of foodservice majors and food tech startups such as Domino’s, KFC, Street Foods by Punjab Grill, Wimpy, TravelKhanna, Hello Curry, among others.
What’s Next for Epicuria?
Going forward, Epicuria will see its first foray outside Nehru Place in Sonepat, Haryana, followed by a property in New Delhi’s Aerocity, at Worldmark (Bharti Realty’s 1.5 million sq. ft. office-retail-leisure address), before moving on to Chandigarh.
“The one is Sonepat is almost ready; it’s just a food court model. Aerocity will be an aggregation of stand-alone restaurants,” Bahl informed, though he did not confirm timelines for the openings.

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