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World on a platter

Mumbai?s restaurants to get a foreign flavour.

india Updated: May 19, 2006 02:48 IST

India Inc. Gourmet is ready to take on the world with two Mumbai cafes — Mocha and Leopold — making their way to the global food map.

It is not the first time that an established Indian restaurant chain is opening branches abroad, with Gaylords, Copper Chimney, Chor Bizzare (Delhi and London) having already made their presence felt off-shores. But it is the first time that restaurants whose USP is not their Indianess are set to make a mark elsewhere.

Leopold, the legendary Mumbai café which features in books like Shantaram and in recent films like Bluffmaster, is heading to London. The 100 year-old café that has evolved to become a part of Mumbai’s landscape has been on all tourist itineraries for long. While the owner of Leopold was unavailable for comment, industry sources confirmed the news. Adman and restauranter Prahlad Kakkar, a regular at the café in his younger years says, “It is great that Leopold will also be opening in London. To have an Irani café, bun maska and omelette-pao in London would be wonderful. While the old man Leopold stuck to the Irani café image, the young owner has introduced European and Continental cuisine, which will go down well with Londoners.”

The more recent Mocha, one of Mumbai’s first western-style cafes, is also in the process of signing up an agreement for a café in Dubai, to be launched by year-end. Up next are Mocha cafes in Philippines, Singapore and Colombo. Also being finalised are plans for countries like Kuwait and Qatar. Riyaz Amlani, CEO and managing director of IEHPL, the company behind Mocha hopes all these outlets will be operational by 2008. Says Amlani, “We always thought that Mocha had the resonance to go abroad. We feel confident that it will do well as it is not a cut paste model. We chose Dubai and Singapore because they are like crossroads to the world.” He adds, “With our first outlet we plan to get the international exposure needed to expand further.” The differentiating factor of the Mocha cafes, its interiors, will keep to their Oriental, Moroccan and Asian feel. The plan is to market Mocha abroad as an ethnic, cultural place.