India’s macaron queen, Pastry Chef Pooja Dhingra recently opened a new Le15 Patisserie outlet at one of Mumbai’s busiest shopping centres, Palladium Mall, Lower Parel.
This happened soon after she closed her Colaba Le15 Cafe, in May, unable to survive the economic impact of Covid-19. However, Le15 Patisserie outlets have been operational after the lockdown was eased in Mumbai.
In the lockdown, Le15 Patisserie home delivered their goodies and their DIY kits. Dhingra also published her book, Cafe Cookbook, which has recipes and some stories from her Colaba kitchen.
What challenges did you face in opening a new outlet during the current times?
Just functioning as a normal kitchen during these times is difficult. So, opening a new outlet was also very challenging. Even though the outlet was 90% complete, we still had to finish 10% of the work.
What made you take the decision to open an outlet in a mall?
Well, we were already present in the mall since 2012 and then in 2018 our lease ended and we had to take a break. Then last year, we selected this spot and we were supposed to open on the 20th March, but then lockdown was announced and we couldn’t complete our outlet.
How has the response from customers been?
The response from our customers has been great. A lot of people in the mall know us because we were there for so many years, so everyone was very excited and they couldn’t wait for us to come back.
How has the support from Palladium Mumbai been?
The support from Palladium has been great. We’ve been partners with them for very long. Through the whole process of finding the space, doing it up and to start the shop, been immense. From the leasing team to the marketing team everyone has been extremely supportive.
What are your marketing strategies to promote the new outlet?
Our marketing strategy has been one of awareness, so to make sure people know that we are open in the mall. Secondly, to ensure that people know that everything they have from our store is safe and they can rely on us.
Why did you decide to close down your café in Colaba?
We decided to close our cafe in Colaba in April because of the pandemic and the situation that the hospitality industry was in. Given the times we are in, we knew that Colaba is highly touristy and that it would take a long time for the neighbourhood to recover. Add to that the high rentals. Restaurants work with margins that are not big, plus it just wouldn’t be financially viable to run a cafe in Colaba during these times.
Can we expect to see another Le15 café once the lockdown is over?
I am not sure that we will be opening a cafe yet. It’s still very uncertain. I am just taking it one day at a time and not trying to plan too many things, which I don’t know if I will be able to execute.