A new generation of young entrepreneurs is bringing about a transformation to the nature of food business by moving away from the beaten track
From building foodie networks and experimenting with food fusion concepts to hosting the city’s first food truck festival and a drive-in restaurant concept, the year 2017 was one that saw a slow, but definite transformation in the food space of the city. Foodpreneurs didn’t shy away from exploring lesser known concepts, injecting a new excitement into a business and introducing concept eating-out places, which catapulted the city’s foodscape to a new level. If the food truck culture swelled, cafes came up with a plethora of activities to engage in innovative ways with the consumer. There were open mic events, events to bring together foodies of the city, live bands and interesting contests surrounding food – all of these kept the city’s food calendar busy.
Networking over food
Says Sumanth Behara of Plot 17, “People have become much more experimental with food. A big part of it comes from travel. As more people step out of the city and experience the food and culture elsewhere, it also opens up their mind. This has helped the city’s food scene to evolve. Cafes and restaurants have mushroomed over the past one year and it is all a great positive sign.” Experimenting with its menu and introducing sub-brands for its bakery unit were some of the initiatives done by Plot 17 over the year. It also hosted a unique event this month called ‘Communeaty’ with an aim to create a foodie network bringing together food aficionados who want to meet new people and share their passion. “The idea behind ‘Communeaty’ is to build a foodie community in Vizag where the group can collectively go and explore new eating-out options in the city. It is a common concept in Hyderabad and Bangalore. In the coming year, we want to host one ‘Communeaty’ event every month and also host similar events in other cafes and restaurants once we perfect our model,” says Sumanth. The first event saw an enthusiastic participation of over 40 people. The concept is a win-win arrangement for food lovers and cafes or restaurants in the city. The foodie networks keep the culinary scene vibrant, exploring new pairings and flavours while meeting like-minded foodies.
The year also saw the city’s restaurant and cafe culture evolve to offer a concept of ‘fusion’ food. One of the refreshing places to come up in the city was Gluttons Garrage, a place that seeks to symbolise the meaning of ‘fusion’ when it comes to food. Here, you can order your regular wheat base pizza with broccoli or opt for other unusual options such as pizzas with lamb curry and gongura chicken. Pastas with oats, flaxseeds and also chocolates form a part of its interesting menu. “Idea is to give a fusion of cuisines. For instance, a mix of Italian and Indian in one plate. We also want to offer two contrasting food concepts – fusion food as well as health food. The city now is willing to experiment when it comes to food and it is great to see many foodpreneurs trying out new things,” says Robert Rejoice Kumar, the mind behind Gluttons Garrage. The place has three different sections – Junktion 77 which offers a mind-boggling range of fusion food, Kaloreez – the healthy food segment and Just Not Shakes with health juices and shakes and will soon introduce cold pressed juices. Varieties in cuisines and dishes remained the highlight in the city’s new cafes and restaurants, décor played a very important role in drawing the young crowd. Several residential areas like Seethammadhara saw interestingly-themed cafes opening up like The Hungry Hippo, which gave a funky look to the décor.
If concept cafes and restaurants took the food scene forward, food festivals brought about new dimension to the eating-out culture. The recently-concluded food truck festival was one of the concepts that struck well with the people of Vizag. The festival brought the food trucks of the city on place and pepped up the festival with live music and a flea market enlivening the atmosphere at the beachside venue of MGM Grounds. Vizag also saw its first drive-in concept restaurant open at Lawsons Bay Colony when Vizag Drive-In brought together different brands under a single platform offering burgers, grills, pizzas, idlis, biryani, ice-creams and shakes. “The response has been overwhelming. We have been getting requests from several other firms to be a part of Vizag Drive-In. But as of now we are restricting to 10 brands,” P. Naga Rajesh of Vizag Drive-In.
As the year 2017 wraps up, it is bringing in many more exciting news from the food and beverage sector. The entry of micro-breweries in the city is expected to give a boost to the food and entertainment scene. In February the city will host the three-day Ground Zero Festival that will be themed around food, travel and lifestyle.