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Afraa Deli at City Centre Salt Lake turns 10. t2 looks back at the delish decade

Cookery workshops, band performances, cake-cutting and adda — expect these and more as Afraa Deli at City Centre Salt Lake turns 10

What: #ConversationsAndMore — 10th anniversary celebrations of Afraa Deli at City Centre Salt Lake in association with t2
Where: Block G, ground floor, City Centre Salt Lake
When: July 13 to 22, 9am-10pm
Expect: The celebrations begin with a cookery workshop on healthy food by chefs from Ambuja Neotia hospitality on July 13 and 17, 4pm onwards. Tolly actor Abir Chatterjee will be present for the cake-cutting ceremony on July 17, while a live adda with Friends FM RJ Animesh is on the cards for July 21. City bands will bring in some melody on all days in the evenings. 
Offers: As Afraa Deli celebrates its 10th anniversary, diners can enjoy some of their favourites from the menu at prices from the original menu a decade ago. Think English Breakfast for Rs 175, a classic Caesar Salad for Rs 100 and a Cafe Latte for Rs 80. Good news for coffee-holics: enjoy all the coffees, both hot and cold, on a one-for-one offer.

Afraa Deli in City Centre Salt Lake, one of the first few F&B ventures of the Ambuja Neotia Group, completes 10 years on July 17. Nitin Kohli, whole time director with the group, rewinds.

What did Afraa Deli, one of the first delis in the city, set out to do when it opened 10 years ago?

Afraa Deli was the first delicatessen brand which focused on fresh foods, including a range of cold cuts, organic produce selections, imported cheeses, freshly baked breads and pastries, customised cakes, salads, pastas, sandwiches and a selection of beverages. The idea was to provide a fun venue where guests could enjoy specially-crafted delicatessen items in a relaxed ambience. 

It also featured a variety of organic fruits and vegetables with a large selection of potted herbs and a juice bar with fresh shakes and freshly brewed coffee and tea. Bakery items were the highlights, with all-day breakfast items such as muffins, brownies and bagels. 

How have diners of the restaurant changed in the last 10 years and how has the restaurant evolved to cater to them?

Back when it started, Afraa Deli was the only outlet of its kind that sold imported cheese and meat along with dips and sauces and a lot of expatriates would visit for these items. With the influx of malls selling gourmet items, delicatessen items lost importance and we had to change the menu to more of a takeaway and QSR model. We changed focus from imported products to fresh, gourmet meals. 

Many more F&B outlets from the Ambuja Neotia Group followed since opening Afraa Deli. How has the journey been? 

Afraa Deli’s popularity inspired us to open more outlets in City Centre New Town, Eco Space Business Park and Acropolis mall. After that we went on to open Afraa Creperie, Sonar Tori, The Orient and clubs like Eco Vista, Verde Vista and Montana Vista. We also went on to open Ganga Kutir, Anaya Kutir, AltAir and Swissotel. 

What plans do you have for Afraa Deli now that it’s 10?

We are planning an expansion for Afraa Deli this year with two new stores, keeping in mind the change of taste among the new generations. Our coffee menu is getting  re-crafted with a gourmet selection of fresh roasts and we are also introducing the concept of a “chef’s table” where one table will be exclusively monitored and catered to by the chef.

HEAR IT FROM THE CHEF

Chef Sumanta Chakrabarti, who has been with Afraa Deli from the time its first menu was made, in consultation with Italian chef David Cananzi, has seen the brand grow over the years and is ready with new offerings. “When we started out, we were the first to offer delicatessen-style gourmet food, takeaways and even things that diners could buy in small portions. Our range of cold products and even bakery items like artisanal breads and all-day breakfast items like croissants, bagels, doughnuts and savoury items were not very easily available outside, back then,” recounted Chakrabarti. 

Since then, the menu has seen a lot of changes. “Especially after 2014, we evolved into a takeaway-casual dine den along US styles with an elaborate hot section with pastas, pizzas, salads and other combos,” he added.

With its 10th birthday, Afraa Deli, which now has three more outlets (City Centre New Town, Eco Space Business Park and Acropolis), plans to add more homemade pastas and a grilled menu, along with Papparoti buns. “It’s been an incredible 10 years where we have grown and we hope to do more,” signed off Chakrabarti. 

Anannya Sarkar

Opinion

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