[dropcap]M[/dropcap]umbai finally has its largest dining room on the sea.
On Saturday, India’s financial capital will witness the unveiling of its largest ever floating restaurants, giving diners the enviable experience of having a sumptuous meal in the middle of the Arabian Ocean while catching on the city’s iconic skyline.
The restaurants on board two large ships – Queensline Neverland and Queensline Sea YAH – will be parked a few miles into the sea off Mumbai’s iconic Gateway of India. Each ship will be able to accommodate 450 diners at any given point of time.
The restaurants will be multi-cuisine and will have the best flavours from across the world. There is however another bonus – the ships will also cruise across Mumbai’s shoreline, giving diners an unparalleled experience of seeing India’s majestic city at sun set.
The restaurants are owned by Delhi-based entrepreneurs and husband-wife duo Shripriya Dalmia Thirani and Mridul Thirani.
It was the idea of Union minister Nitin Gadkari to open up Mumbai’s Eastern Sea front and turn it into a Riviera similar to that in the Mediterranean or Western countries.
Gadkari is expected to open the restaurants along with a host of other dignitaries from across the world on Saturday.
Passengers will be picked up from designated points across Mumbai’s coastline and taken on board the ship for an “unparalleled dining session coupled with a cruise that would allow people to see the city from the water”.
Over the next few months, Shripriya intends to make the decks of these two 4500 tonne vessels the enviable home of art, culture and cuisine.
Speaking about the launch, Shripriya said, “The wait is over. This is our gift to Mumbai. People in this city love to work hard and party hard. We wanted them to have a brand new place to relax and what better than the middle of the sea, looking at the shoreline – the imposing sky scrapers creating a perfect silhouette against a setting sun. The food will be the best of global flavours. Indians don’t have to travel abroad for such flavours anymore”.
The ships have been bought from Turkey. Interestingly, the duo hurled the Indian flag over the Bosporus in Istanbul along with two of the ship’s original owners before it set sail for India.
History was made when the duo in the late 30s won the first ever bid to open restaurants on the Arabian Sea last year.
Both of them who are rank outsiders in the food and restaurant business beat industry honchos and swung the tide towards them by a demonstration of their sheer love for Mumbai and its waterfront.
Shripriya also intends to open the ships for fairy tale destination weddings.
“Water is a very auspicious space and perfect for Indian weddings. Many Indian families you will see now are travelling to sea side destinations for their weddings. Now they don’t have to travel too far. I have brought that fairy tale to their doors now. The two ships can be a perfect host – maybe one for the bride’s side and the other for the groom’s”.
According to Shripriya, food is central to the DNA of India. The psychographic profiling of India’s youth confirms that they are very liberal, enjoy experimentation and greater consumption. Eating out is a habit and not an occasion driven activity. The rise of eating out economy has propelled the restaurant industry to $48 billion, according to a report by the National Restaurant Association of India.
Interestingly Mumbai is the tourism hub of India which boasts of over 55 million domestic visitors and 5.10 million international visitors annually. Over 15 million people inhabit the city. Mumbai houses over 500 restaurants. But till now, not a single restaurant has been on the Arabian sea.
Thirani said, “Imagine a classic Turkish vessel standing majestically off the coast near Gateway of India. Adding to the historic view and a delectable feast, this vessel will have an international feel to it from the outside and have the warmth of an Indian embrace from the inside. A meal ceases to be just a meal then. What it ends up becoming is a feast for all our senses.”
The ships hail from Istanbul and have hosted several royalties, dignitaries and prominent people around the world. The Monarch of Great Britain – Queen Elizabeth is said to have graced her presence on board.
Shripriya – scion of the famous Dalmia clan – she is the grand daughter of Jai Dayal Dalmia, the co-founder of Dalmiya Cement and OCL India and who has successfully dabbled in films in Bollywood and in the South under her banner Nanu Productions added “The ships will be open 24X7. We are putting in place all the required permissions so that people can stay all the time and enjoy the spectacular views and the sumptuous food. Overnight staying as in sleeping will not be allowed as per the tender and hence no rooms are available. From on deck barbeques to star gazing through powerful telescopes, LED Screen / projectors to watch movies/ sport while lazing on the deck to art on the ship – everything will be available”.
Mumbai is India’s richest city with total wealth of $820 billion. Mumbai is home to 46,000 millionaires, 28 billionaires compared to 23,000 millionaires, 18 billionaires in Delhi and 7,700 millionaires, 8 billionaires in Bengaluru.
“Mumbai’s coastline with the impressive city scape can give a lot of global sea side cities a run for its money. I am certain that once the restaurant begins to operate, lots of new businesses will come up around the sea. Dining on the water will then become a must do for everyone just like it is for tourists who go to Monte Carlo or the French Riviera. The demand for tables is already shooting through the roof,” according to Shripriya who is a mother of three, an alumni from The Indian Institute of Learning and Management which is affiliated to the University of Bradford and an MBA from Symbiosis Pune.
The Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) has been keen to turn the city’s eastern coastline into a recreation spot.
Officials said the “floating restaurants are intended to be a signature project in Mumbai to match Mumbai’s stature as the financial capital of India and leisure destination and to its enterprising people and the ever increasing tourists. The license has been granted for a period of 15 years. Thiranis will be able to operate the ship and its restaurants round the clock, subject to relevant permission from all statutory authorities. The ship will have to be equipped with state of the art equipment for navigation, safety and pollution prevention”.