Creating ENTERTAINING SOCIAL SPACES
RITZ|March 2020
Riyaaz Amlani, CEO & MD, Impresario Handmade Restaurants shares his journey on providing unlimited entertainment options.
NAMITA GUPTA

How did the idea of getting into the restaurant industry come, after a Masters degree in event management from UCLA?

A Mumbai boy through and through, my youth in the ’90s was spent distressing over the lack of entertainment options in India’s Maximum City. At that point, in your leisure time, all you could do was watch movies or drive up and down Marine Drive or Worli Sea Face. Although I love my city, I always felt that Mumbai lacked options as far as leisure activities were concerned. Also, I was dating a girl at that point, and if we wanted to go out and have a chat, the options were either some Udipi restaurant or a five-star coffee shop. There was nothing in between. So, the problem was really very real to me. After doing a course in entertainment management at UCLA, I came back to Mumbai and became an entertainment consultant setting up bowling alleys, gokarting tracks and amusement parks. For me, it was always about creating these entertainment spaces. But the idea of getting into the restaurant business came to me much later, when I was on a weekend holiday in Panchgani with close friends. We were chatting over cups of coffee and sharing a hookah, which I had procured during one of my trips abroad. The weather was amazing and everything was just perfect. A friend of mine randomly said I wish I could bottle this moment and that was my Eureka moment. I thought to myself why not bottle the experience and also sell it? The seed of Mocha was planted in my head that night. Today, the Mocha chain has been through several avatars, but in 2001, when the first Mocha opened in Mumbai, the city had no coffee shop culture. It had just got its first Barista a month earlier.

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