Social is my most successful property so far: Riyaaz Amlani
About six years ago, in 2014, Riyaaz Amlani opened first Social, an all-day cafe that works as a hangout as well as working space during the day and transforms into a high-energy bar once office hours end, in Bangalore. Such is the functionality of this place that it soon became a hub for everyone and spread its wings to other cities like Delhi NCR, Chandigarh, Mumbai and Pune. Last week, Social opened its doors to Navi Mumbai and opened its 26th outpost in Vashi. On the occasion, we also interacted with Social’s founder and CEO & MD of Impresario Handmade Restaurants, Riyaaz Amlani about his vision for Social in the initial days, its success, how he manages to keep up with the changing times and what’s next for this brand. Excerpts:
Q: Last time you told us that with each restaurant, you try to create a vibe and then transport people there. What is the vibe that you have tried to create with Social?
Socials is a combination of feeling at home, making someone smile and just enjoying the space between the walls. It's really difficult when you've to drag people from their beautiful homes and we work very hard to ensure that once you are here, you enjoy this place. I think design plays an important role and with Social, we try to create a space where people would bump into each other a lot more than they would in any other space.
Q: It has been over five years since you introduced us to Social. Do you remember the vision you had for this space?
For me, it was always a cafe and workspace which could turn into a high energy bar in the evening. It was a Mocha 2.0 but more like Mocha for the millennial.
Q: When a brand is there in the market for a long time, people tend to get bored of it. How do ensure Social keep up with the current times?
There are things we are conscious about like we're creating a space for the community, a physical platform for the community to come together and the community can never go stale. You become stale when you become too Instagram friendly or create something just for the hype, things like a neighbourhood cafe always stay. We try to make it not very gimmicky or trendy, we want it to be about people more than the place. We want to create communities. We give it an impetus and we hope that communities build around it. Our job is to provide the impetus. The community does the rest.
Q: How has Social grown over the years? And, what does this brand mean to you and what has it given to you?
We are very happy. At the start, we were afraid that it would be another novelty item. But social has established itself in our customer's lives - whether as a workplace or as a space to go crazy at night.
For me, it will always be the closest to my heart. It helps me connect with my neighbourhood, my community and be myself. It's an easy-going place where I can come three times a day, seven days a week. And, of course, it has been the most successful property so far. It's also the most sustainable. We’re very excited about it.
Q: Do you plan to bring healthy and sustainable eating to Social as you did with Smokehouse Deli?
We listen to our customer. The menu here is crowdsourced, customers can indulge themselves and when they miss home-cooked meals, we have ‘ghar ka khana’ as well. And, we would keep it like that for now.
Q: What made you bring Social to Vashi?
Why not Vashi? It's a great crowd. It's a thriving place. I think the satellite suburbs have been relegated but they've been full thriving ecosystems in themselves. Socials is happy to be here.
Q: After Vashi and Powai, is Thane next?
Absolutely! Were opening in Viviana Mall in the next 45 days.
Q: Lastly, which city is your next stop?
Chennai. We are coming there by the end of this month.