Kolkata’s What’s Up! Cafe (What’s Up Ltd) has acquired Café de France, a four-decade-old cafe in Dallas, Texas, announced the group on Tuesday afternoon.
What’s Up! Cafe in Southern Avenue is partnered by three Bengalis - Anamika Sengupta, Anirban Sengupta and Debraj Dey.
Why the U.S.? “The US is a country that welcomes entrepreneurship. It is one of the easiest countries in the world to do business in. In the US, you can do business even if you are not a citizen or don’t have a green card, local partner or joint venture,” shared Dey, partner, What’s Up Ltd.
Dallas also houses one of the largest Indian-American populations in the US.
The group also shared plans to expand to other cities in the US. “Some of the cities we have in mind are San Francisco, New York and Chicago and we plan to go the equity route or self-funding. It will be entirely funded from India by us,” added Dey.
‘Exchange programmes’ are also in the pipeline to encourage knowledge-sharing. “We are contemplating an exchange programme where our chef and wait staff exchange shifts between the two restaurants to gain exposure. So, very soon you may have an American serving you the next glass of wine here!’’ shared Dey.
The existing 150-seater all-day dining and breakfast restaurant in Dallas, known for its French and American cuisine, is set to be renamed ‘Cafe de France by What's up Cafe’.
The menu will see “subtle” changes. “We believe, when in Rome, be like the Romans. We don’t wish to convert the palate of the locals. Instead, we want to introduce our signatures in subtle forms, maybe by way of ingredients, dips, sauces, masala… a little bit of fusion. What we will primarily carry there is the Indian hospitality, warmth, smile and service,” shared Dey.
There may be a few additions that make the cut for the French connection. “Prawn Thermidor is a popular French dish that we serve at What's Up! Cafe. That is one dish that they do not have there; same with Tetrazzini,’’ remarked Dey.
Prawn Thermidor and Minced Chicken LasagnaSoumyajit Dey
What’s Up Ltd had also launched a QSR brand called ‘99’ to enter the “affordable dining” market. “The original model was to take ‘99’ across Kolkata as a QSR format. But unfortunately, the pandemic happened and the plan got stalled. Now we intend to take 99 to the next level where we will multiply it across the city both in terms of self-owned and franchise outlets,” added Dey.
What’s Up! Cafe on Southern Avenue opened in 2015 and became a popular destination for the youth, offering three tiers of dining including skywalk seating, jacuzzi dining and a view of the Lakes. This FIFA season, the cafe is decked up in the colours of the World Cup… but it seems to have already scored a win.