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Exclusive: 23-year-old Karan Nohria's restaurant, Silly, is now expanding to Delhi

The GenZ restaurateur talks to Forbes India about the challenges of working in the F&B industry in India and expansion plans for his brands

Naini Thaker
Published: Jul 8, 2023 09:00:00 AM IST
Updated: Jul 7, 2023 07:34:40 PM IST

Exclusive: 23-year-old Karan Nohria's restaurant, Silly, is now expanding to DelhiKaran Nohria, founder, Silly

Later today, 23-year-old restaurateur, Karan Nohria, is launching his resto-bar called Silly in New Delhi. As it completes two years of its presence in Mumbai, Nohria now wants to turn it into a prominent brand across India. After New Delhi, he is looking to expand to Bengaluru followed by Hyderabad by the end of next year. His vision for K7 Hospitality is rooted in innovation, customer-centricity, and the pursuit of excellence. In an exclusive interview with Forbes India, Nohria talks about how he started Silly and the legacy he wishes to create in the F&B industry in India.

Edited excerpts:

Q. What inspired you to start a restaurant like Silly?

When I was 19, I knew I wanted to set up a restaurant. I started with a cloud kitchen initially with two brands—one was a South Indian brand and the other was Lebanese. Eventually, things didn't go as per plan. But, it was a great learning experience for me.

Then I started toying with the idea of setting up a resto-bar but with a different vibe.

That's how the concept of 'Silly' came about. About a week before the pandemic's second wave set in, we launched. Even without a massive launch, the response in the first few days was unexpected.

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Q. It is two years since the launch of Silly, Mumbai. What's next?

Our immediate priority is Silly, Delhi—that we have been marketing as the "Bar From Bombay"—to create a sense of curiosity among consumers. It has taken us over a year to build. The two-storeyed resto-bar has a speakeasy-style entrance, vibrant colours, and a special floor dedicated only to cocktails. Localisation is necessary—even though we started in Mumbai, we want to ensure that Silly Delhi makes the locals feel right at home.

So, from the decor to the food and drinks menu, we have ensured that it is as Delhi as it gets. After the Delhi launch, we will look to expand to Bengaluru and Hyderabad.

Q. The F&B industry is quite a crowded market. Take us through the challenges of being a restaurateur in India.

One of the biggest problems with the F&B industry in India is the lack of well-trained staff. When you have the right people on your team, it makes a massive difference. Be it the right culinary director or the bartender, their expertise is what makes the menu stand out from the rest.

Second, in terms of leadership, getting everyone on board and having the same vision was tough for me, perhaps, given that I was only 21 when I first started the business. It took effort for me to get a staff that believed in me, and my vision for Silly. Lastly, finding external investors was also challenging and getting them to believe in me.

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Q. What are some recent trends in the F&B sector?

Many people have been experimenting with cocktails and food. Fusion food is something that has been around for a while but continues to do very well with people across cities.

Additionally, the set-up and decor are also playing a key role in the way people view restaurants. For instance, dining in-kitchen is something people enjoy, and restaurants like Masque have been using this concept for a while now. Also, instead of high-seating, people now prefer huge tables and couches to sit comfortably and enjoy their food. Even at Silly, our focus is on "comfort" in terms of food or decor.

Q. What is the legacy that you hope to create for yourself as a young restaurateur?

I look up to restaurateurs such as Riyaaz Amlani and AD Singh. So, I want to be an assertive leader and take Silly to many more cities. Eventually, I want to experiment in the F&B tech space as well. But in doing all this and touching milestones, I think I just want the "silliness" to very much be alive—in me, my customers, and my team.

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