Even though the city already has a few khau gallis (food streets) scattered around, one that specifically caters to tourists as a ‘posh hangout spot’ is yet to be seen. But within the next few months, the lane behind the Taj Mahal and Palace in Colaba will be converted into one.
Restaurateur Farhan Azmi is taking the initiative. Azmi owns Basilico, Koyla and the soon-to-be-launched Chai, Coffi that replaces the iconic Yari Road Barista coffee shop in Andheri, already has outlets of Basilico and Koyla in Colaba. Chai, Coffi too, will join them next year. Apart from that, Azmi, who owns even more property in that lane, plans on dedicating all of it to a variety of food stalls that will serve world cuisine.
“We’ve already put in a request to make that road with tiles instead of tar or cement so it could resemble the French cobblestone flooring,” says Azmi, who plans to place street furniture, jukeboxes and a few takeaway joints to add to the ambience. “Local authorities don’t take the initiative to convert popular places into proper tourist spots, so something needs to be done.”
Apart from Basilico, Koyla, Chai, Coffi and a Barista crème outlet, another space has already been leased out to Aura Spa. A Chinese takeaway outlet and a Japanese café are also in the pipeline. “A small Japanese place, designed by International standards, will allow people to just pick up some sushi and walk around. This is when the street furniture comes to use. We’ll be sticking to self-service. Food will be fresh every day, as whatever is left over at the end will be given away to charity” says Azmi, who also plans on having a sheesha bar, but because the topic has been controvertial, is putting it on the backburner. “We’ll request the BMC to put it into a proper law.”
Azmi, with his wife, Bollywood actor Ayesha Takia Azmi, who is also one of the directors in the company, will launch a boutique hotel in Goa soon. “It won’t be a 100 room hotel, we want to do one thing at a time. In this case, just provide high-end, good service to travellers.”