Until two years ago, 29-year-old design consultant Shweta Kaushik was forced to travel all the way from her home in Lokhandwala Complex, Andheri (West), to Bandra if she wanted to hang out at a trendy nightspot.
“There were no real watering holes here,” she says. “The existing places were largely seedy and rundown.”
Over the past six months, however, Shweta has all but stopped travelling to Bandra — much as Bandraites stopped travelling to south Mumbai about 15 years ago — thanks to the pubs, nightclubs and all-day bars that have opened up near her home.
“The convenience factor is a huge plus, because the new places in Oshiwara are barely five minutes away from my house,” she says. “I really like the vibe here now.”
Shweta isn’t the only one.
Restaurateurs and pub owners, tired of the exorbitant rent rates in south Mumbai and Bandra, are beginning to congregate on a strip of Link Road road in what was recently listed as one of India’s richest neighbourhoods by economic research firm Indicus Analytics — mainly due to the near-total absence of slums. Home to yuppies, filmstars and struggling actors, with commercial buildings bringing in, every day, even more youngsters with high disposable incomes, “this area was in dire need of a pub culture like we have in Bandra,” says Tanu Moghe, 27, Bandra resident and co-owner of The Little Door, a 3,000-sq-ft pub that opened in Oshiwara a month ago. “There are a number of fine-dine restaurants, but there were no pubs where you could let your hair down after work, meet new people.”
Moghe’s is one of four resto-pubs to have opened here over the past year, upping the cool quotient of this glittering stretch of eateries, shops, malls and multiplexes that extends from just beyond the Fun Republic multiplex to Goregaon.
The other additions are Woodside, by Woodside Inn, Bora Bora and Hometown Café, with rooftop resto-bar Apicius set to open this week, resto-pub Ye Ol’ Watering Hole by the end of the month and a pub from the owners of Bandra-based burger house Gostana due for launch later in the year, the last promising musical performances and stand-up comedy too.
“It doesn’t make sense for me to open up a space in, say, Colaba, where I’d have to pay a rent of Rs 5 lakh for 300 sq ft, when I could get a 4,000 sq ft space in Oshiwara for the same amount,” says Arpana Gvalani, co-owner of Gostana.
For the residents, the new additions are a welcome relief.
“It's about time this area got its own pub culture, given the amount of money that exists here now and the number of young residents,” says Arjun Krishnamurti, 25, a pilot and Oshiwara resident. “They’ve come at the right time, and now they are attracting people from other parts of the city as well.” Sammy Sosa, a Mexican restaurant in Oshiwara that is also popular for the wide variety of international beers they serve, was the first such establishment to spot the potential, opening here in May 2008.
“Four years ago, we came here because of the low rentals compared to Bandra and south Mumbai. Today, this is the place to be,” says co-owner Virat Kapoor. “Initially, our customers were all from this area. Today, we get regulars who come from Juhu, Bandra and even places like Byculla in south Mumbai.”