Brewing business over a cup of coffee

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What if you could trade in your cubicle for a super cool café? How much more fun would it be to work if your boardroom had a bar or a coffee shop attached? And this is how the concept of ‘Business Cafe’ is emerging in India.

Chiara Pinna |

The restaurant industry in the country has gone beyond the boundaries with new concepts coming and capturing the Indian foodies trail. Business cafes are such spaces that have brought a creative trend into the segment with cafe chains like Starbucks and Coffee Cafe Day and restaurant cafe like Social Offline.

Today people are not choosing cafes for just socialising instead they go to a place where they can interact and intermingle with people from different fields, so social cafes and casual cafes are the way forward for these brands.

Hooking Consumers Socially

As cafes are turning into a meeting-cum-socialising place, these chains came up with the idea of introducing something new that would bring them a good business. Social Offline is the brainchild of Riyaaz Amlani, MD and CEO, Impresario Entertainment, and President, National Restaurant Association of India. The concept was born out of the necessity, where one can enjoy the life of both working and socialising at a time. Social Offline is currently present in Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru with the turnout forms a good number of creative people who like to enjoy the life while working.

Meanwhile, Cafe Coffee Day, the Indian born cafe chain that was started out of the need way back in 1999 to give a place to the young Indians where they can come and meet, spend some time together and take an experience out of the cafe.

‘The Square’ cafe by CCD introduced ‘The Huddle Room’ that has around six-nine-seater meeting room created for a corporate meeting or a low-key get together. “Yes, it is true that many a meetings happen at the comfort of a CCD over freshly brewed coffee and food. We have a good number of cafes inside and around corporate premises. When you say meeting rooms, you must mean the ‘Huddle Room’ concept that we have introduced across the Square format outlets,” shares Bidisha Nagaraj, Group President-Marketing, Coffee Day.

The Differentiated Offerings

People have always used cafes as a very social business. Earlier, they were using it for meetings, but now, they are using it to sit, write a letter, type their thoughts out and make presentations for clients. This shows how people are interacting in cafes. The USP of such cafes is to create a place that can act as an entertainment-cum-working hub, where people can enjoy their work without any boredom.

“People today do not need any office environment to work as technology is everywhere. There is certainly a growth on your own level. We are in cafe business for 14 years and they are all social now,” says Amlani.

Social Cafes vs Business Cafes

According to Amlani, a normal cafe has 100 covers on a day and on 100 covers, a restaurateur is able to do at least four rotations. From morning to night, one person sits for one hour. You have empty seats, so why not utilise these seats for working people in cafes. The Social Offline workspace can accommodate up to 50 people, though it might get a tight fit in the work area if all 50 show up at the same time. However, the battle is for customers watch not his wallet.

At the same time, The Square focuses on theatre of coffee with single origin coffees from across the world, boutique brewing systems and caters to the well informed, well-travelled and discerning tastes of coffee connoisseurs. As of 31 December 2014, CCD operates seven outlets of The Square (of which one is franchised) across Bengaluru, Chennai, Mumbai and New Delhi.

The beverage offerings at The Square brand outlets include specialty coffees, international and local single origin blend coffees, while the food offerings include fine dining options from multiple international cuisines accompanied with baked goods that complement the beverages. Thus, we can say that India is going beyond working from early morning to late night hours.

Today, there are many co-working hubs of different shades that emerging entrepreneurs and start-ups are choosing to work, instead paying high rental cost which is increasing day by day. In the days to come, we can see all major cities including places like Pune, Chennai, Goa and Ahmadabad bludgeoning with such cafes.

(This article first appeared in the Indian edition of Entrepreneur magazine (October, 2015 Issue).


Written By

A writer, foodie, bookworm and an avid traveller, Nusra has more than three years of experience in writing and editing for English dailies and magazines. Her interests find ways to culinary delights in multiple ways. The journalist spearheads Restaurant India on the editorial forefront.