Restro bar 'Three Wise Men' in Santacruz to reopen this month

Updated: Jan 17, 2017, 10:43 IST | Anju Maskeri

Santacruz's much loved Three Wise Men is set to reopen soon. But, what does it take to launch the same brand, amid much competition, after a six-month break? Recall value with a touch of experimentation, we find out

(From left) Owners Atul Chopra, Pratik Parekh and Prashant Chadha. Pic/Ashish Rane
(From left) Owners Atul Chopra, Pratik Parekh and Prashant Chadha. Pic/Ashish Rane

Atul Chopra, one of the owners of Three Wise Men, has the last week of June, 2016, etched in his memory for more reasons than one. While it was around his 34th birthday, the week did not begin on the cheery note that he had imagined. His popular watering hole, in the western suburb of Santacruz, had faced the wrath of the BMC, which demolished illegal portions of the pub. "While the matter was sub-judice and the court had stayed the demolition, the BMC did not so much as issue a notice before initiating the action," recalls Chopra as we meet him along with Prashant Chadha and Pratik Parekh, the three men behind TWM, at the venue.

The tinted windows allow enough sunshine
The tinted windows allow enough sunshine

Six months on, the friendly neighbourhood pub that was established in 2012, is hoping to get its groove back as it re-opens later this month with the same name.

"The place used to be frequented by people from all walks of life, right from editors of publications to kids, who'd just stepped out of college. At that point, there was no BSe, Social or Hoppipola around, and we were happy," laughs Chadha. Living in a digitalised world, where a goldfish can hold a thought for longer than the average human being, a six-month gap can be a long enough time for patrons to change loyalties. And, this is something that the owners agree is the biggest challenge for them as a brand.

TWM six months ago
TWM six months ago

"For the first two months, we kept our social media page alive by posting pictures and updating our status, to 'We'll rebuild soon! Stay connected for more updates! #ThreeWiseMen. However, we couldn't sustain it, because the fact remained that we weren't operational," says Parekh. While the then landlord assured them that they might get the demolished portion back, after a point, the trio felt they couldn't wait any longer. The intervening period was spent brainstorming on the makeover that the place would have to undergo in order to stay relevant and beat competition. "We decided that from the dark, dingy pub vibe, we would give it a more cafe-like feel where patrons could stop by in the day for a brunch. We didn't want them to get a visual fatigue of walking back into the same space again.

experimentation was necessary," says Parekh. The name, however, they agreed, would remain the same. "Had we changed, we would have to start from scratch to build a new identity." he adds.

The change is evident. The all-brick façade dotted by plants is conspicuous by its absence. Located uncomfortably close to the local police station, the pub sports tinted windows that allow enough sunshine to lend the place a warm glow. When we drop by on a Tuesday morning, the 900 square feet area (from 1,350 sq ft) is bathed in natural light.

The ceiling, earlier pasted with kitschy art frames has now been replaced by artwork of Mexican bullfights. "Since we are focusing on a menu that offers Mexican food, we wanted the decor to complement it. You'll now get empanadas, fajitas, burritos with healthy ingredients like quinos, avocado and brown rice, apart from, of course, our good ol' pizza, which we retained because our patrons loved it," says Parekh.

While the decor has changed, the owners have retained the Wednesday ladies' night, Bollywood karaoke nights every Monday, and might launch salsa nights as well. "These are sure-shot bets that we know had worked in the past, and might work again," says Chadha. The team has even managed to get most of its staff back, who were in touch with them all through. It's not just the staff, however, that he has been waiting for. "Not a day would go by when we wouldn't receive messages from our customers inquiring about our reopening. That's because right from the start, we were always around in the pub in the evening when customers would drop by. With time, we developed a rapport with them," he adds.

All three admit to have personally kept in touch with some of their patrons about the imminent comeback. "In fact, recently I uploaded a picture of the place and it got over 400 likes and a flurry of comments in a very short time. It just shows people haven't forgotten us," smiles Chadha.

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