Sandeep Verma

SANDEEP VERMA SANDY VERMA

Sandeep ‘Sandy’ Verma is a popular name on the streets. Whether it is talking about wine, or making a good whiskey sour, or mixing a signature cocktail- Sandy Verma has been the most talked about person in India when it comes to India’s bar scene.

 

Starting in the early 90s, Sandy has witnessed the evolution of India’s thriving fine dining and hospitality sector and has had a significant role in transforming it.

“It is time to bring the customers a 5 star experience. And it is time for the establishments to evolve,” , ——Sandy  Verma

About Sandy

Sandy’s journey began when India was freshly coming to terms with liberalization. The country was changing, and a new class of educated and more liberal youth were coming to the fore. Earlier, nightlife was limited to a handful of 5 star hotels and night clubs which attracted only a select clientele, and the scene was still dominated by heritage names.

 

But with the 1990s a new era had begun. Independent establishments were gaining in popularity and growing in number. Older, prestigious establishments were increasingly becoming pigeonholed as a place for “oldies” which were defined by formalities and outdated offerings. An educated, more liberal class of youth with higher aspirations were emerging, and they wanted more relaxed and fun places to hang out. This call was answered by independent eateries and pubs which were courting the clientele with a promise of more varied fare and more diversified alcohol offerings.

 

It was during this time that Sandy Verma debuted. Starting at the wine cellars of La Rochelle, The Oberoi in 1992, he went on to re-launch of Oasis, the premiere nightclub of Hyatt Regency in 1993. His journey continued with C.J.’s- the hi-tech discotheque at Le Meridian in New Delhi and Fireball, the designer nightclub at Gurgaon. He went on to launch the Broker’s Bar- a Stock Market Conceptual Bar from the British pub of the Heritage International Hotel in Dubai in 1994, and also regulated the bar of Dubai’s most happening British night club- Staying Alive at the same hotel.

 

Over the years, he established himself as the guy who made hotspots happen. He brought in a new form of cool, that matched the aspirations of the newly emerged young clientele, and made a name for himself as the go-to guy in the Indian bar and pub scene.

 

His journey took him all over the world: Maldives, Sri Lanka, Zambia, Dubai, Belgrade, Croatia, Monte Negro, Singapore, Malaysia, France, United Kingdom & Scotland. He established the Institute of Bar Operations and Management in 1996, that specializes in bar designing, bar management consultancies, human resource development, extreme flair bartending, mega theme parties, pub promotions, launches and other related services.

 

Today, IBOM is the leader in its field, and people who have graduated from there have gone on to established successful careers and manage projects and establishments. Today, when the F&B sector is thriving and India’s bar scene is vibrant, it seems like we have reached a plateau.

 

But the times are a-changing, and Sandy believes that the scene is ready for its next step in its evolution.

Challenges that establishments are facing

At one time, 5 star hotels, with their own restaurants and bars had a monopoly over India’s nightlife. The situation changed with liberalization, with the clientele moving away towards independent establishments that were more youth-oriented and offered new delights. A variety of social and economic factors aided in the subsequent F&B sector boom, but with that has come intense competition.

 

Many erstwhile hotspots have grown old. Even some new players are languishing. Some others, despite seeing good footfall are still struggling to mark profits because they are not seeing repeat customers.

 

But is this the end of the road, or is there still hope?

The opportunity

Sandy sees an immense opportunity in the sector now.

 

As a veteran in the field who has the experience catering to many types of clients and has been associated with various projects in different capacities, Sandy is well aware that a change is coming in the scene. If establishments can update themselves to meet these changing demands, they can rejuvenate themselves and claim their clientele back, and subsequently, reach their revenue goals.

 

Customers today are also looking for unique experiences and niches. If you own a hospitality establishment that is ready to rejuvenate itself and get itself back in the game, Sandy can help you achieve your goals.

The situation today and what the customers want

While good nightlife haunts are booming, the customer is ready for more. Simultaneously, with more global exposure, the young clientele have raised their expectations. They are no longer satisfied with run-of-the-mill items or sub-par products.

 

They want their experience in India to be at par with international standards, and they are not satisfied with simply gulping down a dish. They want a complete experience- where dining out is an enjoyable affair and offers novelty in both product quality and service.

 

Similarly, more expats and tourists are coming in. They want a seamless experience, and are looking for uniqueness. They too, want products and services that meet international standards.

 

What is common between these expats and domestic clients is that none seem to prefer the constricting, formal atmosphere that seems to be associated with 5 star hotels. “Hip” is replacing heritage when it comes to F&B expectations all around the world.

 

This new class of customers is also savvy and want value for money. They are open to new experiences, but are also conscious about quality. They want unique recipes and flavors , and many have distinguished tastes and are curious about new things.

 

India’s emerging wine scene has had a considerable influence on the crowd too. India’s domestic wines are gaining more recognition, and customers are also developing a taste for homegrown products and brands. Wine tourism has taken off in certain vineyards, and a niche clientele is growing that takes wine very seriously.