Here's why island bars are becoming focal points of Mumbai's new watering holes

Sep 08, 2017, 20:17 IST | Dhara Vora Sabhnani

Mojo's Bistro in Kamala Mills, Lower Parel

Gone are the days when a pub's interiors only made for a cool Insta frame. Today, design based on business sensibilities is having a bigger say in the blueprint. An idea that seems to have caught the attention of owners of new watering holes is to set up an island bar right in the middle of the venue.

Bring in the business
Owners agree that an island bar is accessible from all sides, and thus, results in better business. "In a space as big our Andheri outlet (6,500 sq ft), an island bar suits us perfectly. We didn't want it to be in a corner from where the bar wasn't visible. An island bar in the centre is more accessible, and the service is faster," says Dibyendu Bindal, partner at Agent Jack's.

Bindal feels that sourcing water supply and drainage facilities might be a challenge, but with advanced technology, these issues
can be overcome. Such a placement also offers more space for guests to hang out with their drinks for longer.

The island bar at Andheri's Agent Jack's

Add to the theme
For others, an island bar works as an extension to the décor. A case in point: Juhu's seaside bar, Estella. "We wanted its look and feel to be like a deck. Since we are situated by the sea, we decided to have an island bar and make it a conversation point. It instantly draws guests, like an island would draw visitors," reasons Hitesh Keswani, director, Silver Beach Entertainment and Hospitality. Keswani echoes Bindal's logic when he says that such a design manages to woo more guests as it ensures easier interaction with the bar team.

Pritina Shrestha, managing director, Mojo's Bistro was clear that their spacious open-air venue in Lower Parel would host a bar in the centre. "Four-sided access is not just a quicker way for people to get their drinks, but also gives a 360-degree view to guests at the bar, and those helming it. Thanks to this, we have bartenders performing. We have added LED lights that play up on big-ticket events like cricket matches. This helps us change the ambience regularly," she says.

Juhu's sea-facing Estella restaurant 

Architect take
Island bars in large spaces are a mainstay not just in the city, but internationally too. Suresh Mistry, co-founder of city-based architecture firm SM Studio, which has worked on the Andheri outlet of Agent Jack's, has spotted some of the finest island bars across Hong Kong and Guangzhou. "It is ideal for service as it enables the waiters to attend to every table in lesser time. Island bars also break the monotony of a large space."

The team at architect Sameep Padora's sP+a that designed Lower Parel's Theory and Juhu's Estella, was clear about Keswani's brief. They say, "Since the island bar is the cynosure of the space, the design had to be technically spot on.
Done right, it is the best way to communicate the positioning of the property."

Going by the footfall at the Juhu hotspot, it might just be the new cool island to check into.

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