India’s first Manchester United Café Bar is set to open up at the Palladium this weekend. The café bar will open on February 6, which is the 52nd anniversary of the Munich air disaster in which eight members of the Manchester United football team were killed when returning from a match. It is also the day the football club will play Portsmouth in the Barclays Premier League. Fans will be able to watch the match from one of the many plasma TV screens at the café bar, or one of the two wall-mounted projector screens.
The screens will beam all Man United matches live and feature other football and major sporting events. Customers can also play video games on the screens when there are no events scheduled.
Everything in the café is a Red Devils tribute, including a gift shop selling licensed merchandise such as footballs, T-shirts, and jerseys.
With seating for 120 and standing space for 40 people, the 3,000 square foot venue has a red and black interior, representing the home jersey colours. The bar has a honeycomb design, representing a goal net. In the centre of the café is another communal bar.
A Wall of Fame traces the club’s history, including a picture of Ryan Giggs celebrating his winning goal in extra time in the FA Cup semi finals in 1999. A black and white photo of Johnny Carey being carried shoulder high after defeating Blackpool in the FA Cup in 1948 shares the same space.
Above the Players’ Tables are digital pictures of Wayne Rooney, Ryan Gibbs and Rio Ferdinand. The dugout seating, a replica of where the home manager and reserves sit during a match, is the premium seating space. It will have a cover charge during big matches, as will the Manager’s Desk, a red sofa unit dedicated to Sir Alex Ferguson, the current manager. His pictures decorate the walls, along with medals commemorating his treble winning season of 1999.
A 500 square foot private dining area and bar that seats 25, features the No 7 Wall, where watermarks of the names of all the No 7 players, including Michael Owen are etched on to a giant red No 7. A Man United T-shirt displayed on the wall has been signed by last season’s footballers.
Apart from alcohol and creative cocktails, the café will serve Western continental, Indian and pan-Asian cuisine… and special dishes or ‘Players’ Specialities’ such as the Champions Burger.
While the club will host live acts occasionally, most nights will have house, retro and rock on the playlist. “We want it to be an entertainment place, not just a sports bar,” says Wasim Khan, of Mirah Group, which runs the outlet.
Prashant Narula, business head of Manchester United Café Bar (Mumbai), adds: “We are expecting a mixed crowd since a lot of women follow football. There are Man U fans as young as six in India, so we expect families in the day. At night, the place will be more of a bar. We won’t restrict entry, but we will have bouncers at the door.” With the World Cup taking place in South Africa, the club is expected to be packed from June 11.
Plans to open the café in Pune and Goa are afoot. And Mumbai fans have one last thing to look out for… rubbing shoulders with Man United’s players and the club’s brand ambassadors who are expected to visit the café bar.