Defunct mills' land refurbished into office-cum-retail spaces; F&B industry increases footprint.
That the food and beverages (F&B) industry has evolved from being retail's 'poor cousin' into a sector with a dominating edge is evident through many examples. F&B players have been dominating retail leasing activity, with premium malls being the main target for spaces across India. On all the country's major high streets, F&B operators remain the most active retailer category, ahead of apparel.
Mumbai is no different. However, one area that stands out is the Lower Parel-Worli belt, where the F&B industry is flourishing not only alongside retail but also on its own. This is largely because this is a huge catchment of office-goers during the day and families at night. For a few years now, the Lower Parel-Worli belt has been witnessing a steady transformation into a major F&B hub, with more than a hundred operators now located in this area.
Apart from the F&B players present within Palladium mall and High Street Phoenix, F&B spaces operating in some of the nearby mills and along the high street also see brisk business throughout the year. While 42 F&B brands operate out of the Victoria-Kamala Mills compound alone, another 12 are based within the Todi Mills compound. 20 more operators are located along the high street stretch of Senapati Bapat Marg.
The primary reason behind the emergence of this major F&B cluster is, of course, the erstwhile mill land making way to newer office buildings with the ground floors dedicated exclusively to F&B in most buildings. Similarly, at High Street Phoenix, the ground floors are dedicated to F&B operators except a few that are located on the upper floors. Palladium mall, where F&B outlets are almost entirely located on the top floor, is a notable exception in a scenario where most other F&B outlets are on the ground floor.
A distinct value proposition
The strong 'pull' factor of this area as a standalone F&B hub is remarkable, with the likes of Hard Rock Café situated here. Most customers visit the area for sampling different cuisines and ambiences, or to let their hair down at the upscale pubs. Thanks to the big residential and office catchment, business is brisk throughout the day. What also helps is abundant availability of parking, especially at Kamala Mills and also at the Phoenix-Palladium malls.
Given the number of brands present, there is also considerable churn in the F&B market, with less successful operators making way for newer ones. However, brands that get the 'winning formula' right always see hordes of customers on any day of the week. Weekends are even busier, with customers often having to wait for quite some time before they get a table.
The cuisines available in the Lower Parel-Worli belt here range from Indian to Thai, Vietnamese, Italian, Continental, Chinese and Japanese. The evolution of this hub is a great example of how changing socio-economic factors can help a F&B destination of this scale emerge out of an erstwhile industrial district and make flourish on the back of unique 'pull' factors.