Hoppipola (Khar, Mumbai)

Hoppipola is run by the listed company Speciality Restaurants, who also run the ubiquitous Mainland China and Oh Calcutta brands. I’m not sure exactly how the concept of Hoppipola came about but I’m sure the Speciality directors were working on the premise “loads of college kids are getting drunk at the weekends these days”, we want to cash in on the action!

Sadly how to “cash in” on this trend is the difficult part as Speciality Restaurants has found out. The average spend in Hoppipola is around 500 INR according to the mangaement, stubbornly lower than restaurants like Mainland China and 60% of the business is at the weekend. Getting people in the door seems to be the easier part at Hoppipola; the place is always packed to the rafters with “fresh faced” adults (sometimes questionable)| at the weekend, but no one spends!

I can’t say that I have tried much of the food (at 11pm in a packed venue, the enthusiasm for service is low), but most of what I have tried and seen is a greasy mix of fried finger food and the usual pasta and pizza dishes. There’s nothing particularly wrong with the fare, but you can see the concept revolves around alcohol and “fun” (like “jumping in puddles” as per the meaning of Hoppipola in some Scandavanian language). There are number of raggy, alcohol stained board games that you can play to whittle away the time – that’s the fun, is it? Given the amount of people that frequent the place on a weekly basis, the white cafe style furniture and chairs seems a strange choice and now bear all the hallmarks of decay.

I’m struggling to see any unique propositon in Hoppipola, it’s a Me-Too offering from a big corporate chain. Look at the stock price – 100 INR to less than 70 in under a year – and you’ll get an idea of the pressure and challenges the management faces.

It should be back to the drawing board…

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