Aerocity: Delhi’s own Clark Quay
out to be a classic case of supply side economics.
Enhanced supply creates its own demand. Or is there more to it?
I remember meeting Zorawar Kalra five or six years ago, when he was the first occupant of the still-under-construction Cyber Hub, and his restaurant was called Made in Punjab.
He was seriously worried about what would happen to him when the mall would attain full occupancy with 42 restaurants. Life for him changed after the opening of Farzi Cafe at the Cyber Hub, and although the place has 72 restaurants and assorted watering holes today, no one is complaining about business not doing well.
At the Sector 29 HUDA Market, the story is no different. I once happened to be coming out of The Molecule, a hugely popular restaurantbar, literally pushing my way out through the crowd of waitlisted customers at 10 pm, and I was greeted by a surging mass of humanity (many of the women had taken off their fashionably heeled shoes because their feet were crying out for relief!). It doesn’t come as a surprise therefore when one learns that Sector 29 is the country’s most successful microbrewery market.
And it serves a different demographic because, unlike what we believe, Gurgaon is growing into a buzzy metropolis and it takes a good half an hour, provided there's no traffic, for people to commute between the Cyber Hub and Sector 29. It’s not any different for One / Two Horizon Centre. I had raised the matter of the commute when I met Avantika Sinha Bahl at her Japanese restaurant Kampai, the first to open at the Worldmark complex developed by the Bharti Mittals in the Aerocity. Avantika said Delhiites would now be able to avoid the irritating commute to Gurgaon to be able to dine at their favourite restaurants, for all of them were opening at the Aerocity.
WHEN Aerocity opened, I gave it no likelihood of survival, especially after I saw the early hotels struggle for survival in a dull market — and suffer doubly because of the late awakening of the Delhi Police to the alleged ‘security threat’ posed by them.
Over the past five or six years, my prognosis has been proved wrong.
The hotels may not have much to offer in terms of food and beverage destinations (the notable exceptions being Annamaya at the Andaz, JW Marriott’s Akira Back and Pluck at Pullman), but their occupancy levels, fed largely by the multinationals moving into the neighbourhood, should give them much cause for joy.
The big news, though, is that Aerocity is shaping up to be Delhi’s next restaurant hub, with new brands such as Priyank Sukhija’s Plum and Dragonfly (a nightclub of gargantuan proportions), Saurabh Khanijo’s Asian dining market leader Kylin, Tappa by Punjab Grill from Lite Bite Foods and Kampai, jostling for people’s attention with the more familiar Cafe Delhi Heights, The Beer Cafe and the first franchisee-operated Farzi Cafe.
Fed by the people working in the offices around them and the resident guests of the 15-odd hotels, the barely month-old dining hub already has the look and feel of what Khanijo calls “Delhi’s answer to Singapore’s Clark Quay and Boat Quay.”
When Aerocity opened, I saw no likelihood of survival, especially since the hotels struggled initially