What has always caught my attention at international restaurants is the memorabilia (memorable in Latin) that adorns the walls. Abroad, it is these eye-catchers that bring in a large chunk of the tourist traffic.
Unfortunately, Mumbai has few diners that can boast of such artifacts. Tendulkar’s at Colaba has a couple of interesting items like the Man of the Tournament trophy and the ‘I can we can’ poster signed by the winning Indian team after they beat strong rivals to the 1983 World Cup.
Worli’s Hard Rock Café and Versova’s TGI Fridays is lagging far behind their American counterparts even though Hard Rock Café boasts of 250 priceless pieces dating back to the 1960s. It claims to be the world’s biggest collector of rock memorabilia.
Most of these pieces of history were bought at auctions, donated by private collectors or given as a token of appreciation by rockers. There are jackets, drum sets, autographed guitars, outfits from world tours and rare photographs that display the names of the singers and some even the year in which they were taken. Most of them are rotated, every four years, to different parts of the globe.
Says Jay Singh, executive director, JSM Corporation that runs the Café in India, “We are like a rock museum. We take customers on a trip of the restaurant and give detailed descriptions of each item.”
TGI Friday is a close second. Its walls are covered with similar original souvenirs rooted in American culture and history, dating back to the late ’60s and ’80s. Prominent displays include film posters, street signs and surfboards. All of these are shipped to different counties from a storage facility in the U S or other outlets.
Unlike Hard Rock Café however, here there is no mention of contributors, dates or even origins. Even the management is clueless about details.
Says associate vice president Bishnu Das, “We don’t need to fill up our patrons with dates and places. They know far more about all this than we do. They are connoisseurs who have a feel for history.”