Game changing restaurants

By Karishma Jayapaul


Indians are eating out a lot more and restaurants are plating up fun games and activities to maximize business.

The culture of eating out in India has changed over the past couple of years. We don’t really need an occasion to step out of the house to enjoy a nice meal but do it simply to experiment with food. We gape at pictures and take every chance we get to try out the new restaurant on the block.
According to the India Food Services report 2016, brought out by the National Restaurants Association of India (NRAI) and consulting firm Technopak Advisors Pvt. Ltd., Indians prefer quick-service restaurants (QSR) over fine-dining restaurants. The report also suggests that Indians eat out with their families about 75 per cent of the time which includes about 14 per cent of casually meeting friends over a meal. Those who like to socialize over good food, spend about Rs.6,500 a month eating out four times a month. About 41 per cent of socialisers prefer going to a QSR while only 36 per cent would choose a fine-dining restaurant. With the food services market in India projected to grow at an annual average rate of 10 percent to approximately Rs.4.98 trillion by 2021, according to the NRAI-Technopak report, the restaurant business is surely booming.
The restaurant business is always buzzing with new ideas to make people come back to them for a good meal. Restaurants are now offering a wide variety of cuisines on their menu. Eateries are now upping their game with the help of games, art and crafts to keep the crowd coming back. The Grill House on Brigade Road, Bengaluru, has UNO cards, mini snooker board, jenga and crossword to keep their customers engaged while enjoying their meal. Known for their big portion sizzlers, The Grill House serves alcohol and co-owner of the restaurant, Nihal Peres thinks it is a good way to keep them out of trouble and help them have a good time. “We were first located around a college and had a lot of young students coming to us so we decided to keep a few games,” says Peres. The Grill House first opened in 2015 and they only started with board games a year after. “We have definitely seen a greater footfall since we introduced our customers to the best of both worlds, board games and good food,” adds Peres.
Hoppipolla, a restaurant and bar opened its first branch in Bengaluru in 2012 and now has franchise spreading till Mumbai, Pune and Chennai. Gaurav Sharma, the manager at Hoppipolla in Indiranagar said the restaurant began with keeping in mind customers of all age groups. “We have all the old board games like ludo, snakes and ladders and chess so that everyone can feel at home,” says Sharma. With chalkboard tables, their customers can scribble and interiors with high stools and pebble laden floors. “We keep our guests coming back for more with our beer chugging competitions and good service. These things do play a major role in the restaurant business apart from the food we serve,” says Sharma.
A lot of people go out looking for new experiences than just a good meal. Lakshmi Nagarajan, a popular lifestyle blogger describes her experience in Claytopia to be one where she could get away from the tumult of the city. Claytopia started in 2007 and it was never just about food. Here they have scores of pre-molded earthen clay pots which you can paint. The prices of the clay pots and cups you want to paint will be displayed alongside and the whole experience is made to give the customers a chance to unleash their creative side. The B-square pieces of clay are first painted by the customers, with paint that is non-toxic, say Sampath Prajapati, manager of Claytopia in Koramangala, Bengaluru. “We then take these pieces, dry them, bake them and then call the customers to collect them when it is ready,” adds Prajapati. Claytopia believes painting goes hand in hand with fellowship and bonding much like what sharing a meal stands for. “We have tables waiting every weekend and it has to be because of our unique concept,” says Prajapati.
The changing face of restaurants is now also about how you can engage your customers with not just lip-smacking food but an experience that they will always treasure.  

Creative Commons © 2017 Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media