‘Impresario plans to increase its restaurants count to 100 in next 2-3 years’

Ranveer Sabhani, Chief Business Officer, Impresario Entertainment & Hospitality Pvt Ltd says while the QSR market is slightly more organised, the CDR market is still fragmented

For close to 22 years now, Impresario has focussed on innovation and excellence with its story is rooted in India’s socio-cultural landscape, reflecting its growth and brand ideology. It was back in 2001 that Riyaaz Amlani started Impresario Entertainment & Hospitality Pvt Ltd and the very next year kick started this journey with the first café, Mocha – Coffee & Conversations. The concept of Mocha was conceived keeping in mind the vacuum in the Indian F&B space for a desirable, cosy and memorable dining experience where people could wind down after a long day at work, hangout with their friends and meet like-minded individuals.

“Through the years, starting Mocha and conceptualising several brands – SOCIAL, antiSOCIAL, Smoke House Deli, Prithvi Café, Slink & Bardot and BOSS Burger – have evolved understanding consumer experience which is an invaluable tenet in scaling businesses. Today, we have over 60 outlets spread across 20-plus cities in India,” shares Ranveer Sabhani, Chief Business Officer, Impresario Entertainment & Hospitality Pvt Ltd.

Over the last two decades of experience, resilience, ability to embrace change and staying ahead of trends, says Sabhani, has helped them engage with the India’s burgeoning youth. “As we continue our journey to build sustainable brands, we remain focussed on creating memorable experiences and spaces that resonate with India,” he says.

Excerpts from an interview:

With a diverse portfolio of brands, how does Impresario ensure each brand maintains its unique identity while aligning with the overarching company vision?

We’re a dynamic brand and we pride in our diverse portfolio of establishments, each offering a unique culinary and lifestyle experience. With a commitment to innovation, quality, and customer experience, Impresario has solidified its position as one of the leading F&B brands in India.

Every space of ours ties back to this commitment, while staying true to its individual identity. Over time, we’ve fine-tuned our understanding of diverse consumer segments, and have adapted offerings to match their evolving preferences. This has led our roster of brands to be dynamic. Today, we have something for everyone.

For consumers who enjoy a fusion of global and hyperlocal essence, we’ve been able to build SOCIAL. Sitting at the confluence of a café, a bar, and a co-working cum networking space, every SOCIAL outlet embodies the hyperlocal essence of the area it resides in. Its meticulously curated pincode strategy imbibes the nuances of the neighbourhood whilst retaining its national appeal. There is always a craze behind visiting a new place when it opens, but our goal with SOCIAL is long term – we understand and execute the hyperlocal vibe of every neighbourhood so people can find comfort in calling it their own.

Through Mocha, we were able to build a café culture in India 20 years back. We were able to attract guests across all demographics who were looking for a space to interact and connect beyond breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 

Our brand Smoke House Deli offers a contemporary culinary experience to consumers seeking great European food in a casual and relaxed environment. Or Slink & Bardot, which is known for its craft cocktails. While these represent the legacy we’ve been building, our recent venture Bandra Born has been our new canvas for food experimentation, or as we call it a ‘culinary playground’. It has grunge interiors, quirky graffiti and serves flavour-driven dishes. It reflects our spirit, our journey with food, and is an ode to Bandra.

For us, it has been all about balancing and constantly listening to our consumers and communities who have shaped us, because this connection helps us grow and offer our audience the experience they can own.

Share some insights into Impresario's expansion strategy, particularly its hyperlocal approach demonstrated through the pin code strategy.

Today, markets beyond Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru have exhibited growing preference for urban cosmopolitan lifestyle driven by an increase in disposable incomes and globalisation. This trend underscores the immense potential for growth in the food services sector, and Impresario is set to leverage the opportunities it presents led by our trailblazer brand SOCIAL, which has been at the forefront of Impresario’s growth.

Driven by our hyperlocal agenda and pincode-driven growth strategy, in the last decade, we’ve given concerted focus to ensuring there's a SOCIAL in every key catchment area. In Mumbai that could be Colaba, Lower Parel, Khar; Indiranagar, Whitefield or Koramangala in Bengaluru, and Nehru Place, Vasant Kunj, Hauz Khas, or Saket in Delhi. Additionally, overtime cosmopolitans are growing and the boundaries of cities keep widening. To ensure we’re reaching our customers where they are, we’ve added such locations to our expansion plan. For example, outlets in Sector 85 in Gurugram, Faridabad in Haryana, and Thane in Mumbai reflect our mission to increase SOCIAL’s pin codes and cater to an audience seeking dine-out experiences closer to home.

Also, the phenomenon of reverse migration has brought back young professionals to their hometowns and proliferation of the internet has fuelled the need for premium experiences beyond Tier I markets. SOCIAL’s growth strategy has been backed by the evolving preferences of consumers in Tier II, presenting opportunities to offer differentiated yet localized experiences. In 2023, we ramped up our expansion plan and launched several outlets in these markets, including neighbourhoods such as Dehradun and Indore. The trademark SOCIAL logo and hyperlocal pin codes form the genesis of the brand, making it iconic and easy to spot. 

In a rapidly growing market like India's food services industry, what challenges and opportunities do you foresee for Impresario in the Casual Dining Restaurants (CDR) segment?

The F&B industry is growing at about 15 per cent year-on-year. However, within the food services industry, there are different segments like casual dining setting, QSRs, and fine-in. Casual dining is among the fastest growing among these. The CDR space contributes significantly to the overall F&B sector, driven by higher disposable income and desire to eat out. The largest segment, which is about 5x of the total QSR market, is casual dining. The QSR market is slightly more organised, and the CDR market is still fragmented. So, there's an opportunity to create a large company in the casual dining segment because not only is it 5x the size of QSR market, but it is also growing 50 per cent faster.

However, in a volatile industry, where the mortality rate is high, it is difficult for brands to sustain beyond five years, something that Impresario has proven to overcome with almost 22 years in the business.  But through the years, we have been met with stiff competition with new launches and existing brands ramping up their businesses. To combat this competition, especially across metros, we’ve had to double down on customer engagement to enhance existing customer experience in existing markets whilst simultaneously broadening our base by catering to emerging markets across the country.

The concept of SOCIAL, blending a café, a bar, and a co-working cum networking space, is innovative. What inspired this unique offering, and how has it contributed to Impresario's success?

Over the last two decades, the F&B space has emerged as a dynamic industry that is ever evolving. Understanding the pulse of the market has been one of the pillars of growth for Impresario. For us it is more than just observation of the preferences; it's about being immersed in culture, conversations, and communities. We stay engaged, innovate, listen, and evolve alongside the ever-changing tastes and preferences of our consumers.

SOCIAL has been instrumental in driving this growth and today, has 51 outlets across the country. Each SOCIAL outlet encapsulates the local essence of its neighbourhood. As a space that offers something to everyone, SOCIAL brings in significant revenue from footfalls both during the day and at night, occupying a unique space in the CDR category. In fact, in the last decade, SOCIAL has transcended beyond the restaurant space by seamlessly integrating itself into pop culture, becoming a brand that young India loves and reconsiders.

SOCIAL was introduced when millennials were seeking experiences that were aligned with their cultural sensibilities. Opening its doors at Churchstreet in Bengaluru, Hauz Khas in New Delhi, and Colaba, Mumbai in 2014, SOCIAL quickly resonated with the younger population, offering food with quirky names, great music and once again creating an immersive ambience which mirrored the emotions of the neighbourhood it was residing in. 

From artists, entrepreneurs to working professionals, SOCIAL outlets become the hub for community-building. In fact, SOCIAL is also the space where the idea for boAt, India’s leading wearables brand, came to be. Our social spaces have helped creative professionals thrive and brought the perfect balance of work and play by transforming into a vibrant nightlife spot. This resonates deeply with India's burgeoning demographic dividend, where 64% of the population falls under the working age, with a median age of 28.

As a unique and exciting youth brand that is in sync with the evolving times, SOCIAL will continue to be a collaborative and inclusive space to create connections and communities.

Can you share any upcoming initiatives or projects that Impresario is particularly excited about, whether it's new brand launches or expansion plans?

Our growth strategy, after almost 10 years of SOCIAL, is to expand into state capitals and Tier II cities. We have recently forayed into newer markets such as Kolkata, Goa, Hyderabad, now Faridabad, and the response has been phenomenal. Cities such as Dehradun, and Chandigarh where we have one or two outlets overall have been strong case studies for the rising demand in dining out. 

We are quite keen to grow the SOCIAL brand to go deeper into the cities that we already preexist in while we are going to tap into the state capitals and then into Tier II markets in a big way. It reinforces our belief that we are on our journey to doubling in the next two-three years and to have consistent growth in the next decade. And we are bullish on expansion and are looking to expand to cities such as Lucknow, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Kochi, Ludhiana and Raipur, among others.

What sets Impresario apart from its competitors in the Indian food services market, and what factors contribute to its sustained success?

Through the years, we have stayed engaged, innovated, listened, and evolved alongside the preferences of India. And today, it is a much-loved brand with a robust network of 65+ outlets across 20+ cities in India. With a legacy of over two decades in India’s hospitality and nightlife space, Impresario has been at the forefront of unforgettable dining and community-driven spaces. We have been the preferred choice for consumers across various demographics when they step out to dine, hangout or are looking for a good time.

SOCIAL, Impresario’s crown jewel with 51 outlets today, is one such success story. SOCIAL has transcended beyond the restaurant space, and represents a confluence of a café, a bar, and a co-working cum networking space, emerging as the ideal hangout spot. Entrenched in pop culture, SOCIAL caters to diverse audiences and today, everyone has an associated connection with it. In fact, as a youth-centric brand, SOCIAL is on the list of every marketer looking to connect with new-age consumers. Building resonance through key passion points of comedy, sports, music, entertainment, SOCIAL continues to be a collaborative and inclusive space to create connections and communities. 

As Indians go out more than ever before, they will seek immersive dining and nightlife experiences, and we will continue to cater to their growing inclination towards this with our unique offerings. Impresario plans to increase its restaurants count to 100 in the next two to three years, with a revenue target of Rs 1,000 crore by FY26. Most of this expansion will take place in Tier II and III cities.


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