Looking for a place where you can work, be connected and at times just hang out? Then look no further, check out the new Colaba Social. Some call it a boardroom with attached bar.
Freelancers, take note. When working from home gets too distracting and the loneliness (or chaos) eats into your work, it may be time to pack up your laptop and head to your nearest Social. This online-offline chain of restaurants doubles up as a clever work-space for freelancers and you might as well find your muse lurking behind the bar.
The Social chain is run by Riyaaz Amlani and his Impresario Handmade Restaurants – the people who brought us Mocha, one of the first cool hangouts for young people in Mumbai.
Social steps in to offer a space that you can work in, network and enjoy a meal. Amlani says, “For the first time in restaurant history, we have introduced the ‘second place’ concept, an inspiring space where you can work and play.”
Riyaaz wanted minimal use of materials and minimum intervention in the existing space, he also wanted to use old furniture in innovative ways. This resulted in a bare space where most of the old architectural features were left intact, as also retaining the property’s original floors, windows and doors.
The new Colaba Social is the third in the chain, with other restaurants based in Bengaluru and New Delhi. Designed by Sanya Desai, the restaurant is decidedly laid back and with a good dose of warehouse chic, Colaba Social takes bare-bones decor literally. The walls have been stripped back to brick and the ceiling lies exposed.
Retaining the original architectural features led to the mish-mash of old mosaic floors, windows with shutters and high ceilings to get the desired informal look.
For seating, Desai went with comfy leather sofas and colourful folding metal chairs in blue and orange, both around tables and on walls; the chequerboard tables paired with a swing adds to the quotient of upcycled innovation.
The overall ambience is dark, but welcoming. Naked bulbs hang from the ceiling and table clamp lights provide additional illumination.
The only intervention has been the Cocktail Kitchen which occupies pride of place at Social. One can sit by the bar, look at bottles on the walls, that stand-in for pans and have the bartender-chef whip up the choiciest concoction.
The kitchen with its white subway tiles, hanging bottles and hashtags is the heart of the space. Given the nature of the space, hashtags show up everywhere. They are etched in white on the red brick wall (#WIP near the workspace) and also show up on pickle jars and in the bathroom. Some hashtags are in Devnagri, which takes some deciphering to figure them out. Even the water is called #paani.
The food encompasses a wide-range of cuisines and is served in unusual containers including gramophone records, enamelled plates, wooden spiked boards and even chocolate in a mini bath-tub. The menu is another quirky touch – it comes in the shape of a newspaper.
Encouraging people to work together in a communal space is a long table surrounded by other work areas, equipped with hi-speed wi-fi, printer, scanner and even a boardroom for conferences. There’s even an app (in beta) that allows you to view and order food from the extensive menu. All this is included in a monthly membership, available by application via their website.
For a restaurant that has opened only a short while ago, Colaba Social has certainly climbed up the popularity charts. That is perhaps an indicator of how big the need is for cosy, welcoming spaces in the city, where working in cafes is common and not frowned upon.
Text By Chryselle D’Silva Dias
Photographs Courtesy Impresario Handmade Restaurants