When Lower Parel's blueFROG downed shutters last year, many a millennial mourned the loss of what was considered the city's best live music venue. But we have to rewind to 2007, to the time when yet another icon ceased to exist.
Razzberry Rhinoceros, referred to by regulars as Razz Rhino or Razz, was a barn-like space in Juhu Hotel. Started in 1993, back when spaces for live gigs were a rarity, it acted as an incubator for several emerging Rock bands. However, unable to sustain this business model, it was forced to convert into a banquet space.
A gig in the 2000s
Now, after a decade, Razz is all set to reveal its new self. While the lawns will be used tomorrow to host a craft beer festival, Tapped, Razz in its entirety, will open to public in the beginning of March.
Turning old to gold
When we walk into Razz Rhino on a warm afternoon, it's almost unrecognisable. Work is in full swing, and the walls have been torn down to make way for glass exteriors, transforming it from the once-grungy space to a sleek, brightly lit beachside eatery and lounge.
Gino Banks at Razz’s ninth anniversary party
We meet co-owners and cousins Neeren and Nitin Tewari, who have been all over the F&B industry map. Divulging their plans for
the space, Neeren says, "The idea is to reinvent it as an all-day dining space, with emphasis on food and service. It will be divided into zones, and each one will be utilised for different purposes."
The jazzed up Razz hopes to go beyond the music venue tag that made it iconic, and will accommodate other cultural events. The duo has landed on real estate gold, what with the sea view and indoor plus outdoor seating, and they will be maxing it.
"The menu has been developed by Chef Ranveer Brar. The bistro will serve Mediterranean fare. The deck, meanwhile, will dish out grills and have a root-to-fruit cocktail bar. We also want to encourage guests to use Razz as a co-working space during the day," says Nitin.
The all-new Razzberry Rhinoceros
There's more. The cousins insist that they want to maintain the core of the old Razz, and will be displaying frames from the glory days, and bring back pool tables, and even the bands, to recreate the nostalgia.
Trip down memory lane
Neeren emphasises that reviving Razzberry Rhinoceros, for him, has been more than just a business decision. "I used to be here very often as a teenager, beer in hand, dancing away to the bands' music."
The wall leading to Razz is being painted in vivid detail to show guests everything that the new space can be used for, from proposals and gigs to family get-togethers and picnics
One such band was Demonic Resurrection, which played its first gig at the venue in April 2000. Lead vocalist Sahil 'The Demonstealer' Makhija, then a fresh-faced 16-year-old, says, "Nowadays, venues are picky about genres, but Razz never cared. It was also where we'd meet like-minded people -- it offered a community feeling."
Drummer Gino Banks, who played gigs at Razz as part of Alt-Rock band Helga's Fun Castle in the early 2000s, reiterates the
impact that Razz had on the city's music scene. "No other place gave Rock and Metal bands as much exposure as Razz Rhino did back then. It had great energy and a great vibe," says Banks, who even recalls having once performed at the venue wearing boxers!
When informed about the management's enthusiasm to host gigs at the new space, Makhija says, "If they approach me, I'd love to play there again. I have some great memories attached to the place."