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Unlock 4.0: How pubs in Bengaluru are reinventing themselves after the break

After being closed for over five months, bars in the 'pub city' have reopened to a different reality. How have things changed for them and what's on the menu? Lounge finds out.

Premixes at Windmills Craftworks, Bengaluru (Photo courtesy: Neil Alexander)
Premixes at Windmills Craftworks, Bengaluru (Photo courtesy: Neil Alexander)

Spirits are running high as bars reopen in Bengaluru. On Sept 1, the Karnataka government gave the green signal for bars and pubs to resume operations at 50% capacity. It issued certain guidelines for guests that include maintaining 6 feet distance and wearing face masks and sanitising hands as they step in. For bars, it is mandatory to sanitise tables after every use, waiters to wear masks and gloves and the room temperature on AC to be within the range of 24-30 degree centigrade.

Lounge caught up with five bars in Bengaluru to find out what is on offer.

  1. Pravesh Pandey, director-partner, Byg Brewski

We witnessed a very good response on day one, but it is too early for me to say if this upswing will continue. Byg Brewski has two outlets, one each in Sarjapur and Hennur, and they behaved distinctly differently. The former would witness greater walk-ins earlier because it is located in a corporate hub, but now Hennur has recorded more guests. Hennur is three times larger in terms of space and my understanding is, bigger spaces with outdoor seating create trust and confidence to maintain social distancing.

I have always believed that memories are created with menu, music and ambience. Adhering to these values, we will be introducing a food menu with dishes that evoke nostalgia; for instance a street-style chowmein. Although our food menu has been trimmed from 183 to 123 items, we have retained about 70% of the star dishes and the remaining are new. Our cocktail offering will expand to include ingredient-focused herb and exotic flower concoctions, such as lavender, bell-peppers and chamomile. We predict by Diwali, demand will pick up as people will be more motivated to step out. There will be more staff available with people returning back to cities from their hometowns. Office-goers have temporary left the city too and they will return after offices reopen, which will add to footfalls. At the end of the day, going to restaurants to eat food and have a good time is not going to stop. It’s just a matter of time.

2. Neil Alexander, chief mixologist, Windmills Craftworks

Windmills Craftworks runs three properties in Whitefield, all located in the same building—the Windmills brewery, Oota and Terrace. The buffet-style rooftop restaurant called Terrace is now closed, but it will be used for guests seating from the other two spaces to maintain social distancing.

In the mocktail segment, we will introduce immunity boosters. As for food, apart from our regular burgers and pastas, we are working on a menu which is all about contemporary Indian. During the lockdown, we introduced pre-mixes for cocktails, like martinis and whiskey-based drinks, that customers could pick-up and take home. These could be stirred in with spirits for a craft-style cocktail experience at home. These were such a hit that we plan to keep them on our menu for guests who walk-in. They are pre-packaged so customers will have greater confidence to drink them without worrying about safety.

3. Gunjan Pal, beverage programme head & training manager, Azure Hospitality Private Limited

Sly Granny and Fox Trot will most likely open tomorrow and we will run the weekend cycle. Our bar was completely shut and fumigated and there was five months of lull. It will take sometime to be up and running while adhering to our brand standards of storytelling with ingredients. We are planning theme-based launches in October, especially around the festivities of Diwali.

4. Mayank Bhatt, Brand Head, SOCIAL

Social Bengaluru will reopen post September 15. We are trying to ensure minimum interaction with the staff and assigning a single waiter for each table. It will be compulsory for our guests to download the Aarogya Setu app. Our bar menu will offer pitchers to enable limited contact; instead of repeating your order, you can just pour your own drink.

From the communities we have interacted with, we have gathered that once Social reopens, they would like to work out of here. Lot of people are giving their traditional office spaces away and work-from-Social will be a big activation area for us.

5. Srinivasan Raman Director F&B The Ritz-Carlton, Bengaluru

At our rooftop bar Bang, we have done away with our bar stools and encourage guests to use their own tables for the time they spend at the bar. Value for money is a key highlight in the menu as both food and beverage prices are matched to rates we had in 2015. We will introduce the concept of ‘Tandoor at Bang’ for smoked food items to be paired with our drinks menu. We predict our guests will lean towards open air spaces and our rooftop bar is ready to meet their needs.

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