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Adapting to Conquer

Dearton Thomas Hector | Print Edition: Sep 2, 2012

A Chinese restaurant making vegetarian dishes or a French eatery offering Italian cuisine may sound strange to food aficionados. But this is what many international luxury restaurant chains are doing in India to cater to local tastes.

Take, for example, Yauatcha, a London-based Cantonese cuisine chain. It opened its first restaurant, in Mumbai's Bandra-Kurla complex, in December. Since the area is a hub of the business community, dominated by Jains and Marwaris, Yauatcha included vegetarian dishes in its menu.

Hakkasan, another London-based Cantonese cuisine fine dining restaurant, did the same. "We have Jain preparations without onion, garlic and root vegetables," says Jeetesh Kaprani, Vice President, Operations, at KA Hospitality Pvt Ltd, which brought the two chains to India.

Le Cirque, a French cuisine chain, is said to have tweaked its menu in favour of Italian dishes, which are more popular in India. Le Cirque was brought to India by the Leela group in September last year. In June this year, the group also brought Megu, a New York-based Japanese luxury dining chain, to India. "We are looking to bring more foreign brands to India," says Rajiv Kaul, President, Leela Palaces and Resorts.

Some companies are going a step further. Parisbased Buddha Bar has changed its name to B-Bar, so as to not offend anyone's sentiments, for its upcoming restaurant in New Delhi. It plans to open 10 more restaurants and two or three hotels.

"We are ready to invest around $150 million in 10 years in India," says Frank Fortet, group head of international development at George V Entertainment, which owns the brand.

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