Operational since mid-2010 and having gone through several ups and downs, Restaurant Week has finally joined hands with Citibank, to become Citibank Restaurant Week, India! 18 months ago, they organised the first Restaurant Week in Mumbai with 7 participating restaurants. This time around, Restaurant Week will include just fewer than 50 restaurants across three cities- Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore.
Now, what exactly is the Citibank Restaurant Week? I ask, on behalf of the ignorant foodie within me. For one week, twice a year, the Citibank Restaurant Week offers you the opportunity to dine at your city's most reputed restaurants at more affordable prices. It lets you explore multiple fine dining options and indulge in a unique gourmet experience. And frankly, it lets you support your city's gastronomic accomplishments! The participating restaurants offer a three-course set meal (option of vegetarian or non-vegetarian) at Rs. 1000 per person (as against Rs. 750 in Bangalore) excluding taxes, service and any extras you consume, including bottled water or other beverages. This is a fraction of what it would normally cost per person to dine at these select restaurants.
As they say, it takes a village of gluttons to raise a restaurant ensemble; the Citibank Restaurant Week had over 6,000 patrons in their last round in September 2011, and that number is expected to increase significantly in this round. Most of their revenue comes from sponsors, with Citibank, their largest partner, supporting them in expanding the concept to a larger number of high end restaurants. With their help, they have been able to reach a larger audience and be more professional to their user-base. They have also partnered with Time Out who helps them market to the right people.
The Citibank Restaurant Week plans to expand to more cities in India and also create some new products. One example is their "Chef's Table Week", a higher end version of restaurant week, where the Chef creates a menu for you at the time of your dining experience instead of a set meal.
Azeem Adil Zainulbhai runs a financial holding company called Crescat Excolatur that creates businesses in Western Africa. He and his two co-founders Nachiket Shetye, who runs a restaurant in Mumbai called 36 Oak & Barley, and Mangal Dalal, who is interning at Noma based out of Copenhagen, happened to discuss the success of Restaurant Week in New York and other cities and wondered why India did not have its own version. This ‘food for thought’ or should I say, ‘thought for food’, inspired them to create this platform themselves.
The size of the team varies between peak times and off-peak times but they are generally around 4-6 people. “It just started as a passion project that we funded ourselves. In fact, we are only just about to break even on the project! Since we developed with the mentality of ‘ease of use’ for the user, a lot of people approached us about expanding the concept. We are expanding it ourselves but remain open to new ideas,” Azeem tells YourStory.
So what is Mumbai waiting for? The Citibank Restaurant Week, Mumbai starts today (March 19-25, 2012). Book your reservations; enjoy your meal and burp your views by dropping a comment right here!