Karan Khilnani was always drawn to the food industry by a deep passion for creating memorable culinary experiences. Exploring diverse flavors and crafting unique combinations became his way of expressing creativity and connecting with people through the universal language of food. Today, he owns one of the popular bar, Elephant & Co in Pune & Goa. Excerpts from the interview:
Pune has gained a reputation as a top nightlife destination for the youth in the country. What sets this city apart from others in your opinion?
Pune's vibrant nightlife is a testament to its youthful spirit and eclectic energy. The city's unique blend of historical charm, thriving educational institutions, and a diverse cultural scene creates a dynamic backdrop for an unparalleled nightlife experience, making it stand out as a magnet for the young and the young at heart.
Could you share some insights about Elephant & Co?
Elephant & Co, born in 2015 in Pune, has become the heartbeat of Kalyani Nagar and Baner. A hub for progressive food, vibrant drinks, and lively conversations, we're more than a restaurant – we're an evolving ECOsystem.
We've noticed that today, people tend to meet for drinks before having a meal. What do you think has driven this trend?
The trend of gathering for drinks before a meal has gained popularity. It's a way for people to unwind, socialize, and set a laid-back tone for the dining experience. At the heart of this trend is the desire to create a relaxed atmosphere, fostering connections, and enhancing the overall enjoyment of the upcoming meal. It's a modern way of savouring both the social and culinary aspects of the dining experience
Additionally, how do you ensure your food pairs perfectly with the drinks you serve?
We make sure our food and drinks are a perfect match by having our chefs and mixologists work closely together. They experiment with flavours to create a menu where each dish complements our drinks, giving you a delicious and well-rounded dining experience every time you visit
What is the unique selling point (USP) that has contributed to your success?
Our standout quality lies in more than just our culinary offerings; it's about crafting a space that radiates warmth and a genuine sense of welcome. We take pride in curating an inviting atmosphere, where they aren't just customers but cherished members of our community. The fusion of a varied menu, culinary creativity, and unwavering hospitality guarantees that each visit is not merely a dining experience but a sincere embrace into our extended family.
Tell us about your new venture JUJU.
Pune's first tequila bar, blending Mexican spirits with cosmopolitan charm. With a snug yet inviting ambiance featuring origami-inspired decor, communal tables, and a curated menu, JUJU invites patrons to savour the essence of togetherness and authentic flavours in every sip and bite. It's more than a bar; it's a celebration of culture, style, and unforgettable moments.
What inspired the creation of a Mexican tequila bar in Pune?
We wanted to set a precedent in Pune for how style, soul, and simplicity could harmonize with tequila, tacos, and the finger-food meals. Juju allows us to experiment with Tequilas. Which is why Juju is the first tequila bar in Pune.
Can you share five tips for running a customer favourite bar?
Offer a diverse drink menu, prioritize a welcoming atmosphere, ensure exceptional customer service, regularly update the menu with innovative offerings, and engage the community through events and feedback. Crafting an unforgettable experience is the essence of a customer-favorite bar.
Lastly, as a bar and beverage professional, what trends do you foresee in the industry?
As a bar and beverage professional, I foresee several industry trends. Craft cocktails featuring unique flavors and local ingredients are gaining popularity. Sustainability practices, such as eco-friendly packaging and local sourcing, continue to be prominent. The integration of virtual and augmented reality experiences in bars may redefine patron engagement. Non-alcoholic beverages crafted with complexity and creativity are on the rise. Additionally, the fusion of cultural influences in both drinks and ambiance is expected to grow, offering patrons a diverse and immersive experience