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US-based Hard Rock Café, a chain of theme restaurants, will open in Kolkata, Chennai and Gurgaon.
A second outlet in Mumbai is also in the offing, said Jay Singh, co-founder and executive director, JSM Corporation, the master franchisee for Hard Rock Café in India. At least three outlets are being planned for this year, and a total of 15-17 over a period, including smaller towns. The cafe is already present in Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Pune and Mumbai.
On the group’s plan to enter the hotel space in India, Singh said, “we are constantly evaluating opportunities. However, the right opportunity has not presented itself as yet.” Metro cities and Goa would be ideal locations for Hard Rock Hotels, he said.
Hard Rock Hotels, popular for their themed guest rooms and vibrant ambience, have presence in Bali (Indonesia), Pattaya (Thailand), and Penang (Malaysia) in Asia, besides several destinations in the US.
JSM is also getting ready to introduce yet another American theme restaurant chain to India — Trader Vic’s. Headquartered in San Francisco, Trader Vic's restaurant may come to India, beginning with Mumbai, by the end of this year. In 1950s and 1960s, when the Tiki culture was a fashion in the US hospitality industry, Trader Vic's restaurants grew in popularity, and featured Polynesian artifacts and exotic cuisine.
Last December, the group, which is a partnership between Singh and Sanjay Mehtani (a Mumbai-based restaurateurs) also introduced a gourmet pizza chain in India called California Pizza Kitchen, which has two outlets in Mumbai. “We are planning to open two more outlets in Mumbai. After this we will open one more in Delhi and Bangalore,” said Singh.
JSM has its own brand too, Shiro Restaurants, which is operated at the high-end of the price spectrum. Currently there are three Shiro outlets in India, one each in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.
As for Hard Rock Café, the Indian market is quite different from the rest of the world. According to Singh, the single biggest difference is that 90 per cent of the business in India comes from locals as opposed to tourists. In other countries, tourists make for a very large chunk of business at the chain.
Interestingly, Hard Rock Café will for the first time pay tribute to the Indian rock legends. During its tour, Indian Ocean will donate a piece of memorabilia to each café and the same will be displayed at the outlets. “Other Indian rock legends will follow,” Singh said.
Hard Rock Café worldwide is known for having the biggest music memorabilia in the world with over 72,000 pieces from stars such as Prince, Michael Jackson, Eric Clapton, Madonna, to name a few. It was founded by Peter Morton and Isaac Tigrett in 1971 and checked into India five years ago. It has around one million customers a year across the five outlets in India, said Singh.