Bengaluru: It’s not every day you walk into a restaurant or a café and find yourself shopping for a premium dinnerware or a high-end bicycle. Going beyond food, restaurants are turning retail destinations with millennials being the prime takers for this concept.The retail industry, which is expected to grow to $1.1 trillion by 2020,has a lot in common with the restaurant industry which is making this fusion format a success, writes Shwetha Satyanarayan.
“For the millennials, the experience of eating out is beyond food. They want the right ambience, décor and Instagrammable stories on plate,” says restaurateur Priyank Sukhija, founder of retail restaurant Plum Café in Mumbai.
At Plum Café, visitors can buy anything they see and anything that they like, quite literally. “It could be the spoon they are eating from or a piece of art hanging on the wall; if a customer sees it, he can buy it. Everything in the restaurant has a price tag attached to it,” says Sukhija, who will be retailing Bent Chair décor products at his restaurant.
The experiential dining restaurant sells luxury home décor products starting from Rs 5,000 onwards.
The retail industry is expected to touch $1.1 trillion by 2020 in India, while the restaurant industry, according to a report by Smergers, is estimated to be a whopping Rs 75,000 crore business. However, it’s the restaurant and café chains many retailers are turning to, in order to expand their brand presence and find new customer base.
For instance, popular beer chain Beer Café has introduced its own line of merchandise called Beerosphere, a beer-based collection which comprises more than 30 products including gadgets, home décor, glassware and office stationary.
Commenting on the launch of the merchandise line, Beer Café in a statement, said, “Our collection is an extension of The Beer Café that the patrons can take home or to even office as souvenirs. We want to carve niche with our beer-themed products in the retail space and since most of our products were a hit among millennials, we have extended the collection to home décor, furniture and gadgets.”
A number of gifting products such as cushion covers, playing cards, glassware, candles and laptop sleeves are also available in Beerosphere collection and the current line of merchandise is priced between Rs. 95 and Rs. 3,750.
Online meets offline
For online players like Bent Chair, a home décor startup, retailing in a restaurant is the right step towards offline expansion, where the brand not only plans to strengthenits customer base, but also plans to change the products at the restaurant every four months, so that customers can see Bent Chair’s seasonal collection at the restaurant.
“The experience of buying Bent Chair products at Plum Café is completely unique because there is no separate section for retailing and dining, but everything happens over a table with food and drinks. Being an online player, it was a different opportunity for us to connect with customers, where the concept is not only new, but the whole set-up is new too. Since our products have niche customer base, retailing in a restaurant has given us an opportunity to introduce our products to new customers,” says Natasha Jain, founder of Bent Chair.
A community comes together
For Ashish Thadani, CEO of Ciclo Café, retailing in the restaurant was beyond food and the purpose was to bring the cycling community together. The café sells cycles of 8 high-end brands ranging from Rs 12,500 to Rs 3 lakh, while even higher range international brand cycles will be sourced as per the request of the customers.
“The idea of Ciclo Café is not just to have a cycling-inspired cafe adorned with furniture and lights inspired by bicycle parts but also to bring bicycle culture and a lifestyle centered-around cycling. Ciclo Café is a one-stop-shop for sales and service of premium bicycles, cycling merchandise and accessories, expert advice on cycling, and customized cycle rides – all accompanied with F&B services and multiple cuisines on offer,” says Thadani.
Leading a similar concept, Hyderabad-based startup Driven Café is one-of-the-kind retail restaurant, where visitors can rent a superbike, a luxury car and sip a cup of coffee discussing about their favourite superbike or car. “We take deposits from customers who want to rent a superbike or a fancy car. The minimum deposit starts from Rs 10,000 per day. The bike or car can be rented for a couple of hours or even a day. Our customers can also have a sandwich or coffee, as they wait and meet people with similar liking,” says the spokesperson of Driven Café for Bengaluru outlet.
Reinventing the wheel
“In order to stay relevant with the millennials who most often end up shopping online and order-in food, it’s quintessential to reinvent the wheel. There have to be more reasons than one for a millennial to step out of their comfort zone- whether it’s to shop or eat- and retail restaurants are the perfect excuse. Only innovation in both retail and restaurant industry can keep the game going,” says Sukhija.