While nightlife in the rest of the country is trying to catch up, Kanpur is already serving up amazing meals at Drive & Dine. Founders, Yash Malhotra and Insha Malhotra, tell us how they are adapting their business to the new normal
Drive & Dine in Kanpur is making it possible for people to do the one thing they haven’t been able to since the lockdown: eat out. The Kanpur restaurant offers diners to drive into the restaurant’s garden space and eat in their car or at a picnic table that the restaurant sets up near the vehicle. The food is delivered to the car in golf carts.
“We feel that the setting of parked cars with picnic tables and dangling fairy lights has temporarily transformed the city of Kanpur. The element of uncertainty and fear doesn’t seem to be looming over our 12-acre estate in Cantonment,” says Insha Malhotra who started up the concept with her brother Yash.
With sounds inspired by the Parisian Hôtel Costes, the music at Drive & Dine keeps the energy high, but socially distanced rope partitions also help keep the scene from evolving into an undistanced affair.
“We have now been open for close to a month and the feedback has been very heartwarming to see guests who were hesitant to step into public spaces are welcoming our new concept which enables them to be out in a familiar ambiance while being adequately distant from others and focusing on the fun!”
Insha and Yash’s father, Vikas Malhotra runs Status Hospitality Group with ten restaurants, 16 event spaces and four hotels that include The Landmark Towers, Kanpur’s only five-star property. So when the pandemic hit, the family began to rethink a lot of their plans.
“We started brainstorming on how to reimagine, reset and restart operations, harmonise creativity and find a sustainable solution in the midst of uncertainty for our industry for the security of our people,” Insha says.
Meanwhile, as the lockdown eased, like the others, the Malhotras began going on evening drives. It was an event that they began looking forward to. Driving in the safety of their car, and yet being able to step out of their home, was liberating. It also gave Insha and Yash wonder if people wouldn’t mind eating in their car. “Conveniently, our property, where Dhuaan and its sister restaurants are located, has a selection of lawns where we host weddings and large social gatherings. We wanted to capitalise on the underutilised spaces and so we launched Drive & Dine with the intention to provide space and familiarity to our guests." Insha says.
"We have a UV Sterilisation Chamber for the storage of crockery and cutlery, Contactless dining through our in-house QR Code ordering system, customised face mask cases for guests to safely put away their own, German electrostatic guns for space sanitisation before and after every guest dines, and plant filled spaces to give a tropical feel to distancing,” she adds.
It has only been a month since Drive & Dine started but the Malhotras are already looking forward bringing new experiences to their diners. “Over the next few weeks will bring a host of new experiences to our clientele:
Distanced Bar Nights - Sounds by Dhuaan and our resident DJs with a mixologist cart that drives around the turf from car to car - preparing our house cocktails car-side. The car-side cocktails is our twist on Soho House's "The One While Changing" bar cart that is set up outside the guest rooms,” Yash Malhotra says.
“We also plan to launch The Neighbourhood Project through which we host a drive-through night market. We plan to collaborate with local businesses and provide them with a platform to reach a wider audience by developing distanced palapas along our property for this venture,” he adds.