Quirky cafes and art gallery give Noida’s Sec-104 a Hauz Khas feel
A year after the lockdown, Noida’s sector-104 has become the talk of the town as it boasts of a new normal with its quirky cafes, pubs and bars, and an art gallery that attract people of all age groups from as far as Delhi.
Sapna Khanna, who is a regular to sector-104 since the last three years and works out at a premium gym outlet here, says she hasn’t seen the market transform this much except for the past year since the lockdown. “While most eateries and hangout spots were earlier found only in one commercial complex, now many eating joints and recreational spots dot the entire area,” she said.
Art galleries, quirky cafes add a niche to sector-104
What makes sector-104 akin to Delhi’s Hauz Khas village are an art gallery and ‘insta-worthy’ cafes.
Divyaman Singh, an artist who has been running the only art gallery in the area called ‘Art By Divyaman’ since 2018, says, “I reopened my gallery in June last year after the restrictions that were effected following the Covid-19 outbreak were lifted. Visitors started coming in after November. Though the footfall has increased, it is yet to match to what it was before the pre-Covid era.”
The lockdown hit Raghav Modi badly who opened his dream café with his wife in sector 104 in January last year. “I got good response and also got customers from Delhi for the short span my cafe was open. I have again mustered courage and reopened the cafe last month,” he said.
Bark Street, a pet-friendly café that was opened in September 2019 and reopened only last month, brings people from across the city as well as Delhi to sector-104. “Lockdown was a low point for all those in the hospitality sector. However, the footfall at our café is better than the pre-Covid era. As we have a unique concept and peculiar décor, we are quite popular on social media, which helps put sector-104 on the map,” says Nikhil Pratap Singh, who runs the café along with three of his friends.
Ashish Bhargava, who runs an Instagram page about trendy places in Noida called ‘Noidagram’ with over 60,000 followers, said, “A year ago, sector-104 did not have such eccentric and concept-based cafes. However, with the emergence of ‘insta-worthy’ cafes in the last one year, not only do their pictures get high engagement on social media but also attract youngsters from as far as Delhi. This has made sector-104 market a popular hangout destination now.”
It is not just small ventures that are opening up in the sector. Furniture e-tailer WoodenStreet, that has stores all over India, chose sector-104 to launch their store spanning over 3,000 sqft. “We believe the market here has the potential to flourish. We expect the store in sector-104 to contribute around ₹1 crore per month in sales,” said Lokendra Ranawat, CEO of WoodenStreet.
The launch of a ‘BYOB (bring your own booze) concept’ kitchen bar here has been a major crowd-puller after the lockdown. “Ever since we started operations in December last year, the business has been thriving. One of the major factors behind this is the concept of BYOB, which cannot be found anywhere else in Noida,” said Sunil, a manager at the joint.
The coming up of new joints has also helped older businesses in the area. “Footfall at our restaurant has improved than what it was during the pre-Covid times,” said Kalyani Das , partner of Dasaprakash-- a fine dining South Indian restaurant that opened in sector-104 in 2017.
‘Sector 104 is a sought-after location’
So, what makes sector-104 this sought after? Monika Rawat, who is the co-founder of India Artisans Studio in the area, “We zeroed in on sector-104 to launch our store because of its location. Since we sell home décor and lifestyle products, we chose this area as it is surrounded by new apartments. However, today, our customer base has expanded to as far as Greater Noida, Noida Extension and Delhi as people find our store accessible and feasible to visit because of the expressway.”
Flanked by premium residential societies and located near the Noida-Greater Noida expressway, property consultants term sector-104 as the ‘centre’ of Noida. “The location is accessible to not only those living in Noida but also those living in Greater Noida. Moreover, most young people are now moving to new apartment complexes located along the expressway or in Noida Extension,” says Sumit Rathi, a property consultant.
He adds the market has had a quick turnaround in terms of footfall and business after the lockdown.
“Starling Mall, which houses premium brands like Oxford Bookstore, Theos bakery and Café Delhi Heights, was a major crowd puller in sector-104 before the lockdown. After the lockdown, this market has expanded beyond that one commercial complex and several more eateries and lifestyle outlets have opened here in the past one year,” said Rathi.
Vinod Nagar, a real estate consultant, said the rentals in sector-104 market are one of the highest in the area. “Unlike other commercial complexes in Noida, the rentals in sector-104 market area have stayed as high as pre-Covid times. For per sqft area, the rate is somewhere between ₹150 to ₹200 per month. For a second or third floor, it is between ₹100 to 150 per month. A floor at these spaces is at least 500 to 600 sqft which brings the minimum rental to at least ₹50,000 per month. However, all the premium spaces that are facing the road have a minimum rent ranging between ₹80,000 and ₹1,00,000 per month,” he said.
He added most commercial complexes in sector-104 have a high demand despite not having a lift. “Vendors or tenants are ready to shell out ₹75,000 per month for a second or third floor space that does not even have a lift. The demand for this place is growing day by day and right now, all of the premium locations are occupied. Many more commercial complexes are coming up in the area,” he said.