It’s an interesting trend that’s been sweeping some of Mumbai’s restaurants — while a few have been displaying artworks since they opened shop, others have realised the value it brings to the restaurant a little later. But, what they all agree on is the fact that it not only gives a platform to artists but also makes the restaurant more attractive to customers.
Art for food?
Out of the Blue in Bandra is perhaps one of the first restaurants in Mumbai that started exhibiting artworks nearly 10 years ago. Not only do they have a dedicated wall for their artworks but they also have an event titled Night Of The Artists every Tuesday. “Every Tuesday, an artist or a sculptor creates a live artwork in the restaurant. It creates a lot of interest among customers. It’s a unique feature and many people love to come by to watch the artists at work,” says Shraddha Purnaye, art manager at the restaurant. Yesterday, artist Kalpesh Bhathad painted live at the restaurant.
The artworks displayed garner a lot of attention and they reach out to a larger audience and thus get sold in much larger numbers. “We also give out paintings as gifts to guests on certain occasions,” says Purnaye adding that the response to such initiatives with art has always been great. “We have given a platform to many artists including Hemant Sonawane and Nilesh Vede, who started their careers here and are today well-known artists,” she adds.
Wall of talent
When artworks are displayed in a restaurant many customers walk up to the wall and examine the artworks and this in turn results in a higher number of artworks being sold as well. Café Free India, which opened in Lower Parel two months back, has displayed artworks by about seven artists on all its walls. According to the owner, Sachin Roche, combining art and restaurant is a concept that works well. “It’s a great way to encourage artists. It adds character to the décor and gives customers a little more to look forward to,” he believes. A few photographers who want their works to be exhibited have already approached the restaurant. “We plan to give each artist a month or two months of display,” says Roche.
The Bagel Shop in Bandra, which opened shop about six years back, has been hosting artworks for four years: “We started it to add an asset to the space,” says Anil Kably, owner of The Bagel Shop. They don’t take money to display the artworks, as Kably believes it is an initiative to help young artists, adding, “We have space here, our walls look good and artists get a platform. We are happy that young artists can showcase their work.”
Designer Madhu Mirchandani realised that the combination of art and food works great. So, she decided to open a café to display her work and the Art Café was opened in Andheri nearly three years back. “Food will always be a priority; art is not. But when you combine the two, we understood that the potential of meeting prospective customers is much more,” admits Mirchandani, who designs furniture. Before opening the store, she would meet people at home and show them her creations. She then felt that if there is a proper seating arrangement with food and coffee where patrons could appreciate artworks at leisure, it might work better.
“Even people who come in just for the food, browse through the products and artworks on display. So, when they realise they need a home décor product, they might remember us and return,” reveals Mirchandani. The space also hosts festivals and bazaars where works by other artists are displayed. Apart from these spaces, Kala Ghoda Cafe in Fort and Mia Cucina, which has recently opened in Powai have also taken up similar initiatives to promote art.
With Mumbaiites warming up to the delightfully enticing combination of food and art, it’s clear that satiating the senses and the palate seem to be gaining good ground in these aesthetically-starved times.